Kenny Dalglish – Celtic captain’s attitude rubs off on every Scotland player

Kenny Dalglish has been writing in his Sunday Post column this week and has used it this time around to rave about the Celtic captain, Callum McGregor. The 29-year-old Scotland international has really stepped up to the mark since Scott Brown vacated the captaincy at Parkhead and the former Celtic captain Dalglish believes it is his attitude towards the game that makes him such a leader.

Steve Clarke’s men face off against Spain and Cyprus this month in the Nations League tournament and will be hoping McGregor – who will earn his 50th cap come the weekend – will be able to help guide his teammates through this double-header unscathed. Well, Dalglish believes thoroughly that Callum’s attitude raises the game of those around him and will be crucial if we are to emerge victorious from the fixtures. He said: “Callum McGregor will win his 50th Scotland cap on Saturday, and the milestone is thoroughly deserved.

“At club level, the Celtic midfielder has been inspirational for a long number of years. However, the 29-year-old has been particularly brilliant since he took over the captain’s armband. Scott Brown left big boots to fill, but Callum has managed to do so with the minimum of fuss.The standards he has set have been superb, with his dedication to club and country something that others should take note of.

Oh celebrates scoring with Callum McGregor at Celtic Park on Saturday March 18, 2023.Photo Steve Welsh

He said: “He is a talented and intelligent footballer, and a ferocious competitor. Steve Clarke will look to him to show the same level of leadership, on and off the park, in the forthcoming Nations League double header against Cyprus and Spain. I’m sure that the rest of the Scotland squad will feel privileged to play alongside Callum. He will make them better players and better professionals. Callum will be one of the first names on Steve’s team-sheet at the weekend, and I can see him dominating the middle of the park and leading us to an important victory.

“It remains to be seen who is alongside him. Scott McTominay, Ryan Jack and Billy Gilmour will all be in contention. Depending on the tactical set-up, it could be just one gets the nod. That being so, it could be the Manchester United man who is in there. I also expect John McGinn to start the game, but in a more- advanced area of the pitch. The goalkeeping situation is now clearer. There is no comeback for David Marshall, and Zander Clark, Liam Kelly and Angus Gunn are all in there.”

The European Cup winner also revealed that regard the goalkeeping situation, the ex-Killie boss will probably use this week’s training to decide who gets that number one jersey. He said: “The gloves are very much up for grabs, and it will probably be whoever shows up best in training that gets the jersey. Up top, it’s a bonus to have Lyndon Dykes in the squad. We all thought he wouldn’t make it due to illness, but he has recovered and is back involved with QPR. Lyndon definitely has something to offer, but I would expect Che Adams to start the game, even though his club, Southampton, have been struggling and he’s scored just once this year.”

A consistent malady of Scottish teams throughout the years has been the desperate need for a goalscorer and goals more generally. Dalglish reckons we will have to find a way to goal if we are to gain the points total we need.

Kenny Dalglish goes up to lift the Scottish Cup after the 1-0 win over Rangers in the 1977 final. It would be his last trophy win as a Celtic player

King Kenny continued: “Steve needs to find a way for Scotland to score goals, and we can feel confident of doing that against the Cypriots. We need to start this campaign on a high, and I don’t think it’s too much to expect us to win the game. That will lead us nicely into the tie against Spain. Both matches at Hampden are sell-outs, and the atmosphere will be electric. If we come away with four points from the opening fixtures, I’ll be pleased. That would be a really good platform to build on. Steve will have a plan for both games, and he usually finds a way of getting a positive result.”

He added: “Hampden has been good for us recently, with the wins against Ukraine and the Republic of Ireland. We now need to create more special memories. The ultimate goal, of course, is to get to the Euro Finals in Germany in 2024, then look to qualify for the 2026 World Cup Finals. Co-hosted by the USA, Mexico and Canada, during the week FIFA announced that 48 nations will take part.

“That means 12 groups of four, with the top two from each going through. They will be joined by the eight best third-placed sides. It then goes to knock-out, and the tournament will be held over 56 days. I feel that is too long.

“We need to be careful about the amount of games we are asking top footballers to play in. The World Cup is a brilliant tournament, and I was fortunate to be there for three of them with Scotland. But we still had time to enjoy proper holidays, to rest and relax and enjoy family time. We also got rest periods around club games as the schedule wasn’t as demanding. Now it’s totally changed. So it will be interesting to see the reaction from club managers and players to the new World Cup format.”

Sir Kenny Dalglish: Callum’s attitude rubs off on every Scotland player

Paul Gillespie


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About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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