Steve Guppy on Alistair Johnston and his own time at Celtic

Steve Guppy has been raving about Celtic full-back Alistair Johnston to the Celtic View Podcast, as well as talking to the lads about his own time at Paradise and just what it means to him until this very day as a coach. The former Leicester City man is now a coach in the MLS and revealed that he actually helped coach Ally when he was turning professional too.

 Nashville SC assistant coach Steve Guppy chats with Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith before a match between the New England Revolution and Nashville SC on August 4, 2021, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire SOCCER: AUG 04 MLS, Fussball Herren, USA – Nashville SC at New England Revolution Icon

As connections go, it’s a pretty good one, with the new and old, past and present of Celtic men joining the dots throughout the club’s history. Guppy was coaching at Nashville SC at the time and helped the aspiring footballer to refine his game and work on the rough edges that still needed smoothing out in order to progress in the game. Steve was only but happy to help the young Canadian and set about developing his style.

Speaking to the Celtic View Podcast, Guppy said of their time together at the MLS side: “Alistair has done incredibly well for himself and I’m really happy because he’s a really nice lad and a good pro. We drafted him from college and because we were a new franchise we were high up on the draft list and we managed to get Alistair. Often these college players take time but he got put straight into the firing line and he did extremely well.

Steve Guppy – Celtic v Livingston FC Celtic Park, Glasgow 06 April 2002. Photo Allstar/Richard Selle 

“He is someone that’s a really solid defender, but moving forward we wanted to try and create a weapon and his crossing was something he took to quickly and I’m hoping he’s showing that. During the covid period, I have loads of videos on my phone that Alistair sent of him down the local park crossing balls and I would offer advice.That was a good adventure we went on to improve his crossing and through his hard work, he’s getting the rewards he deserves. I’m sure there were plenty of players that didn’t do the work but Alistair had that burning desire.”

Steve Guppy of Celtic takes the ball past Lucas Neill of Blackburn Rovers during the UEFA Cup second round second leg match held on November 14, 2002 at Ewood Park, in Blackburn. Celtic won the match 2-0, winning the tie 3-0 on aggregate.. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The ex-Wycome Wanderers man had a stint at Celtic Park back in 2001, which lasted two years all in, subsequently leaving the club in 2003. He revealed that when he was about to sign for another Celtic manager at Coventry City at that time in his career, he received a last-minute offer from his former boss Martin O’Neill, which he just couldn’t turn down. He revealed: “You need a bit of luck in life and part of my luck was to have a manager that saw something in me and a manager that was going places with someone as great as Martin O’Neill.

“I was actually going to sign for Coventry City and Gordon Strachan was manager there but when Celtic came in it would have been difficult to say no. Moving to Celtic, the energy and intensity of the crowd was something to behold, I think most crowds have sections but at Celtic everyone was singing which made the whole stadium buzz.’

 Hatem Trabelsi of Ajax takes the ball past Steve Guppy of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League qualification first leg match played at the Amsterdam ArenA, in Amsterdam,. Celtic won the match 3-1: Mike Hewitt /Allsport

Steve couldn’t miss out mentioning the well-renowned Parkhead atmosphere on they lauded European night’s, saying: “The Champions League was an experience with that added spice with the floodlights and they were the best – it was an incredible experience. Very rarely when you retire do you speak to former players about games, but at Celtic if you talk to ex-team-mates you speak about the odd game because of the experience of the whole occasion.

“I look back now very rarely as I’m so into coaching, but on the odd occasions, I think back it’s nice to say you played for Celtic, especially out here in America because everyone knows the club. There’s pride when you look back to know you played in a really good team and it was an honour to play for such a big club and with such amazing players.”

Paul Gillespie


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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