“Opinions on me weren’t accurate and I wanted to change that,” Mikey Johnston

Mikey Johnston’s impactful substitute appearance for the Republic of Ireland in a friendly with Latvia this week has pushed the on-loan Celt back into the thinking of Celtic supporters, and Johnston will be hoping the same goes for Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou.

Johnston represented Scotland at Under-15s, Under-19s and Under-21s levels, and qualified for Ireland through his Derry-born grandfather, and his performance against Latvia may have already started sowing seeds of regret at Hampden.

Although Johnston it appears has absolutely no concerns about following in the steps of Aiden McGeady who received far more attention, a lot of it negative in the extreme, when he made a similar decision.

22nd March 2023 Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland versus Latvia, Mikey Johnston of Ireland thanking the fans after the full time whistle. ActionPlus Peter Fitzpatrick

“I made this decision, people respect that or they don’t. I am my own man and they’ll never know the reasons why I did it. It’s always been talked about, it’s in my family, in my blood. My mum and dad, we had a conversation, they said, ‘Go for it if it’s what you want’.

“I have some family in Derry, some in Donegal, some in Dublin as well. I have them all over the place, but Derry is the link. I have had texts from all my aunties and stuff from all over Ireland I didn’t know I even had.”

22nd March 2023 Aviva Stadium, Republic of Ireland versus Latvia Mikey Johnston of Ireland brings down a high ball. Photo ActionPlus Peter Fitzpatrick

For Johnston however international football will be seen as a platform to highlight his footballing talent, hopefully with a view to returning to Celtic after his loan at Portuguese top flight club Vitoria Guimaraes. With Johnston as reported by The Scotsman, stating:

Jeremie Frimpong, Mikey Johnston and Scott Brown celebrate victory following the Betfred Cup Final win over theRangers at Hampden on December 08, 2019 (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

“We will see. I want to enjoy football and I want to play, I don’t want to sit on the bench and not get games. I just want to feel important. Last year I did still play 20 games for Celtic, so it’s not like I was pushed out the door. I played in a cup final for him, he (Ange) gave me an extra year when I left the club, so that gave me the faith to say he wants me to come back to the club and produce.

“There’s a lot of players in that position, maybe six or seven wingers including myself. I needed consistency, needed more minutes. We had an honest conversation and he said it was best I went elsewhere to get them minutes and I was fine with that. I needed a bit of a freshen-up. Opinions on me weren’t accurate and I wanted to change that. I had to get away from the UK, to be honest.”

Mikey Johnston of Celtic celebrates as he scores during the Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Hearts at Celtic Park on May 19, 2019. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There is little doubt a change of scenery was something Mikey Johnston needed when he packed his bags for a season on loan in Portugal. He’s made 20 appearances in his time with Vitoria Guimaraes, scoring and assisting three times this season, which will have built up the confidence of a player who has seen his Celtic career derailed too often by a series of unfortunate injuries.

There is however no doubting the footballing talents of Mikey Johnston, and his brief cameo appearance for his country evidenced just that.

It also appears there is a steely determination emerging in Mikey Johnston of late and that will endear himself to his manager and supporters alike. If he can transfer that into his performances over the remainder of the season for club and country Mikey Johnston may return to Celtic with a point to prove and the talent to match it.

If ever a player deserved a rub of the green, it’s Mikey Johnston. And it seems the wearing of the green for the Republic of Ireland could be the catalyst for Johnston to set about kick-starting his Celtic career – and good luck to the lad, because he’s due a bit of just that.

Niall J


About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

1 Comment

  1. Yes he knows he has to be twice as good player to take his chance in Scotland international we have seen it in past and present where celtic players playing really well for there club but not making Scotland pool hiw many of the Lisbon lions should have been picked for Scotland dalgliesh dropped by Willie Orman he was going to be crowned fir playing the most games for Scotland consistently not even on the bench it was a friendly I think so if you knowyour history we’ll done mickey aiden and others knew Scotland sfa despise RC Willie Ormand sold his sole to keep Scotland job