“It was difficult to take, but you just keep working hard,” James Forrest

Brendan Rodgers reckons James Forrest is deserving of a song from the Celtic support and he’s not wrong there. Celtic’s Star Man playing down the right spoke to the media ahead of today’s Trophy Day match at Celtic Park against St Mirren…

Here’s everything that was said as Jamesy spoke to the media at Lennoxtown…

 James Forrest  scores during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and St. Johnstone FC at Celtic Park on March 16, 2024 . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Q: Now you have had a chance to reflect on the other night does it make it all the more sweeter? Do you look back and just soak it in a bit more?

James Forrest: “Yes. Winning away from home was great. The performance was really good. After the game, the fans were bouncing and going back to the stadium the atmosphere was incredible. It was a great night all around.

Q: Looking at the season as a whole, what you’ve achieved and what you have had to go through to get there. You have 23 winners’ medals. Does this one feel like it was one of the hardest to earn?

Brendan Rodgers and James Forrest during the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic  and Livingston at Celtic Park on December 23, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

James Forrest: “I think it does. A lot of the boys and the staff said it has been a long season. There have been loads of different events and things that have happened throughout the season. I think we have shown as a club and as players, staff, and fans as well that we are all together. We have managed to come through the hard times and it makes it all the more sweeter.”

Q: With the new look Champions League coming into play next season moving forward with the right sort of investment is this just the beginning of what this squad could achieve?

James Forrest: “Definitely. I think the manager was here before and the stuff from the start of the season has all been forgotten about now. We have won the league and it is exciting. The Champions League is going to be different and it is exciting for everyone. We go straight into that as well so that’s a massive bonus. It is something to look forward to.”

Q: The manager mentioned there was awkwardness at the beginning when he did come back and there was a wee bit of an edge to it among the supporters. Did you feel that as players in the initial stages, he wasn’t being accepted like he was the first time around?

James Forrest scores during the Scottish Cup Semi Final match between Aberdeen and Celtic at Hampden Park on April 20, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

James Forrest: “Maybe he felt that and that is how the fans felt. I think there were only a few of the players who knew him from before and the other players that he signed and those that he hadn’t worked with before just saw a new manager. They don’t look to the outside stuff. Every day we work with the manager and we know where he has been and where he has worked before. We were all excited to work with him.”

Q: Could you tell at Rugby Park that the connection was back in full force? The Celtic fans were singing his name and he loved it and he was a bit emotional after the game as well. You can tell how much it means to him, can’t you?

James Forrest: “It is amazing to see. I think it must have got to him at the start. Whenever you deliver a trophy you can hear the fans singing his name. He deserves that for bringing the club through a sticky spell at the start and getting it over the line and winning the league.”

Q: In terms of going forward, the club have won 12 of the last 13 league titles. Do you feel that the manager can be here for the long run? Can he be here to build a younger squad and establish another proper period of dominance in terms of domestic trophies and Europe as well?

 James Forrest celebrates with teammate Cameron Carter-Vickers after scoring during the Scottish Cup Semi Final match between Aberdeen and Celtic at Hampden on April 20, 2024. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

James Forrest: “I think that is what he will be looking to do. I think everyone knows how successful he was here before. It is a new batch of players. It is a few years down the line. I am sure he will want to add more trophies. He will want to add more stuff that he didn’t do like runs in Europe. He is hungry for trophies and winning things. He will want to keep doing that.”

Q: In terms of the performance on Wednesday night it is probably one of the best this season and you played some really good stuff. You have peaked at the right time. Do you feel that you can carry the momentum into the Scottish Cup final?

James Forrest: “I think the last couple of months have been really good, especially the last few weeks we have been playing really well and you can see the confidence throughout the team. We have an exciting day tomorrow and everyone will enjoy that and then it will be a week of hard work before the cup final.”

Ross County v Celtic – James Forrest celebrates scoring on Saturday November 4, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

Q: Did the title win feel sweet because you weren’t getting a sniff in January/February?

James Forrest: “Definitely. I think it’s been a massive turnaround – one of the biggest I’ve had in my career. I was involved until December and then I wasn’t involved for a few months. It just makes the last few months unbelievable, as I’ve helped the team win the league personally and collectively.”

Q: Did you think at the time that this could be it? Your last involvements in nights like that? 

James Forrest: “Yes. I’ve had so many highs over the years and you miss that buzz when you’re not in a matchday squad. When you’re training at Lennoxtown when the boys are playing a game – it’s not the same. You always feel as though you want that buzz. Because we have so many wingers, I thought it would take a suspension or a couple of injuries to get back in. Sometimes that happens in football and you need a bit of luck, as well as taking your chance when you get it. It’s been a really good few months.”

Q: What were your thoughts back in January when you saw Tilio, Palma and Yang all come in? Did you feel like you had a fight on your hands at that point?

“I think throughout my full Celtic career – playing out wide – it’s a position where you always have loads of players and numbers there. This was the first time that I’d been left out of squads when I’d been fit. It was difficult to take, but you just keep working hard and sometimes you need a break to get a chance and it’s come around. It’s been good.”

Celtic v Ross County – Celtic Park Callum McGregor, James Forrest and Celtic Joe Hart arrive with their trophies from last season’s treble winning season ahead of the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday August 5, 2023.Photo Steve Welsh

Q: You said that you’ll look back on your career and take all of your achievements in. Where are all of your medals? What do you do with them? They’re not just kept in a drawer, are they?

“They were at the start!  A couple of years ago I got a wee room with all of the trophies and tops. It’s really good. Now I can add another one to the room.”

Q: That must be good to have to look back on. Even now that you’ve been here for so long, to have that memento to look at all of the time. Does that take you back and fill you with a bit of emotion?

“It does. When you get a bit older you get more emotional about it because you know in a few years’ time you’ll retire. With the mementoes, it’s a reminder that you have done that and you have experienced a lot with Celtic. There have been so many highs, we had our awards night last week and you see the ex players coming back. They’re still talking about the club. I feel as though you’re always going to have those memories and it’s unbelievable.”

Q: That room with all of your trophies and medals. Would something that you’d like to add to it be a Scotland shirt that you’ve worn at a European Championship?

“I was at the last Euros with Scotland and it was a great experience because we haven’t been there for so long. I’ll just concentrate on the next two games here and we’ll see what happens.”

Q: The squad’s getting announced on Wednesday. Are there any plans with you, Callum McGregor, Greg Taylor and Tony Ralston to watch it? Do you hear from the manager or find out on the TV?

“I’ve not been in the Scotland squad for a couple of years now but I think you find out an hour before it’s released. I’ve not heard anything up to now, but I’m fine with that. I’m happy and enjoying playing here and we’ll see what happens on Wednesday.”

Q: What would it mean to get a call-up?

“I think every time I’ve played for Scotland I’ve loved being away. I’ve been away with the under-19s, and 21s and played a few times for the first team as well. Every Scottish player wants to be in the Scotland squad. I don’t think there’s any hiding that.”

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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