Celtic explain the lessons that have been learned since club released Andy Robertson

By John McGinley

June 18, 2021

Head of the Celtic youth academy Chris McCart has been speaking about the Scotland players at Euro 2020 who were released as young prospects at the Bhoys, such as Andy Robertson.

Robertson, Stephen O’Donnell, Declan Gallagher and Jack Hendry were all on the books as teenagers before being released and finding a career path elsewhere. Hendry of course would eventually return to the club after impressing at Dundee.

Robertson sticks out as the one who got away. He’s now an elite left-back, having won a European Cup and English Premier League title with Liverpool.

The Anfield star has spoken in the past about his release from Celtic and the role McCart played.

In 2017, he told The Liverpool Echo: “There was a transition going on at Celtic at the time where a new head of youth (Chris McCart) had come in. I didn’t fit his bill. He came from Motherwell who were full of big lads and were physical. That wasn’t my game. I was small. I’m not big now but it took me time to grow and fill out.

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“He saw a small guy playing centre mid, left mid or left-back at that time who was quite weak. To be fair I was but I believed in my ability. Looking back on it now, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I didn’t like him for it but it was the best decision for me. Being rejected was hard because I was a Celtic fan from birth. But it really helped me become the man I am.”

Celtic have changed model since Andy Robertson exit

McCart recognises that physical development used to play a more prominent role in making decisions on players.

He also explains that lessons have been learned from situations such as Robertson’s or Gallagher’s. Celtic are now being more patient when it comes to a young talent’s growth.

Speaking to the official Celtic YouTube channel, the Lennoxtown coach said: “When growth kicks in you never know what it’s going to deliver to a young player. Their form, their athleticism can struggle during that period.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s to give them a lot longer within the academy to help them ride out that period. We’re actually seeing that now with our 15-year-olds who weren’t ready to compete during the last couple of years. But we’ve used that model to keep them on the pathway. They’re making excellent strides now.

“We can then relate to the players what Kieran Tierney was like at that age and how he overcame struggles, similar with other players who have left.”

Kieran Tierney followed in Andy Robertson’s footsteps at Celtic before achieving great success / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Celtic are about to embark on a new youth experiment this season with the inclusion of a colt team in the Scottish Lowland Football League.

The players involved in that will be a bit further on in their development than Robertson was when he left, but hopefully, it can serve as a useful tool to help them make strides towards the first-team.

Ange Postecoglou’s could put greater emphasis on youth development than we’ve seen in recent seasons.

In other news, Celtic issue stark season ticket reminder.