“When the objective is achieved, you are quietly a little bit relieved,” Callum McGregor

Celtic captain Callum McGregor spoke to the media in the press room at Tynecastle yesterday afternoon after the Hoops wrapped up the back-to-back title win with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Hearts. Here’s how that went…

“It feels brilliant and I am extremely proud of this group of players that we’ve got and what we are building. To win back-to-back titles tells you that there is a real hunger in the group to succeed.

“When you have success you have to go and try and do it again in an even better fashion. I feel that’s what we’ve done,” the Celtic captain said at Tynecastle yesterday afternoon after Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hearts that delivered a second title in a row for this group of players and their manager and an eleventh title in twelve seasons for the football club.

“You are always looking for improvement and the points are that you have to improve performance, improve results, improve control and improve defensively. In pretty much all aspects of the game we have got better as a team. You see a real selfless nature to what we do and that brings collective success and that’s what we want to continue to do,” Calmac added.

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Coming back last summer bigger, better and stronger than the title winning campaign last season was always the objective and one that the Celtic manager told the 60,000 supporters inside Celtic Park on Trophy Day last May would be happening this time around and he has certainly delivered as indeed have his players, none more so that the inspirational captain himself.

“That’s the nature of this club when you play here you can’t just win one and sit back and rest. It doesn’t work like that and the gaffer knows that as well.

“He knows what the demands of this football club are and the players know it as well. You can see within the group that they are really receptive to what we need to do at this club and we are just delighted that we have managed to get t over the line.”

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Yesterday was an eighth title for the Celtic captain but he’s never going to become complacent and take winning for granted. “Success is a habit,” he said. “When you win and you get a taste of that you just want more and like I said that is what this club demands.

“Year in, year out they want success. If you don’t meet the challenge it is very difficult to find yourself for a period of time.

“I think as you get older you probably enjoy them a little bit more as you know how difficult it is to do especially early on as you think this is normal and you turn up and it happens.

“When you get one taken away and you go a whole season without winning then that eats away at you. So when you get it back I feel that we appreciate it a lot more and Joe (Hart) has probably spoken about that as well.

“The older guys in the group try to instil into the youngers guys to enjoy it as much as you can. One season you might not win anything and it definitely hurts so you have to enjoy the ones that you do.

Next month Callum McGregor will lead Celtic out for the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle where he will have the chance to win his fifth treble as a Celtic player. No other player has every achieved that feat and he would become the first player ever, anywhere in the World to achieve this. But that’s not something that the Celtic captain is too bothered about at the moment.

“There is still a lot of football to be played. You just look at the next success, the next trophy that’s on offer, and you want to win it.

“We have given ourselves a good chance. It’s a cup final, we have to prepare well and that includes the last four league games. We have to be bang at it, we can’t come off it – the manager wouldn’t let us anyway. We just continue to play the way we’re playing, stay hungry and once we get to the cup final we try to deal with it the best we can.

“Everyone wants to play, that’s why it’s highly competitive to get in the team and stay in the team. Look at the subs who came on again today. Aaron Mooy had a huge impact on the game and is someone who has been really strong for us this season.

“There’s that strength in depth there as well, and when guys are in the team they’re desperate to stay in. When new players sign, their job is to bring the level, and for the players already here, it’s their job to raise their level to stay in the team. To have that competitive environment for the next four weeks will hopefully stand us in good stead.

On his personal thoughts at achieving the main objective for the season in winning the league Callum McGregor admits that it’s. relief to get this over the line. “I think there will be some relief. This job takes a lot out of you and there are a lot of sacrifices – but I love it. I love the pressure of it, being in the dressing room with the players and trying to help as many people as I can as part of the team unit.

“It makes me strive to be successful. When the objective is achieved, you are quietly a little bit relieved,” Calmac admitted. And for all the hard work and sacrifices the scenes with the Celtic supporters after the game make it all worthwhile.

“That’s why we play football, it’s to give the supporters moments like that with the players. No matter what you do, in 20 or 30 years you can look back on it as a special time. You’re in the dressing room with a group of guys who have done something special.

Next weekend it’s a trip to Ibrox and if Celtic take something from that game Callum McGregor will be one of very few Celtic captains to have achieved a season undefeated against an Ibrox club.

“You don’t need any extra motivation for these games,” the Celtic captain said. “They are always big games, there’s always something to play for and I’m sure it will be highly competitive again. We’ll have a rest then prepare as normal. We want to be aggressive in the game and try to get maximum points.”

So how did Callum McGregor celebrate the title win last night after leaving that incredible reception outside Celtic Park?

“It’ll be a quiet one as we are in on Monday. I’ll maybe have a cup of tea. I might go crazy and put some sugar in it!” he joked.

“We’re still working. We can enjoy it come the end of the season. You do have to allow yourself to enjoy it. This is football and it’s a really harsh environment at times.

“There’s a lot of pressure and expectation. When you achieve things, of course you have to enjoy them and pat yourselves on the back a little bit. But people always ask where the next one is coming from and you need to refocus your mind to go again.

“When you start the season you are playing and winning to get across the line. You don’t want to drop points or give anyone any encouragement. This is the moment everyone has been working towards from pre-season,” Callum McGregor concluded.

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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