Aiden McGeady opens up on the mental impact of playing for Celtic

By Euan Davidson

February 24, 2022

When Aiden McGeady was a star man for Celtic, he was helping the club win trophies, and playing in the Champions League.

For a young footballer, especially one who grew up supporting the Bhoys, it’s everything you’d dreamt of and more, right?

Well, for McGeady, it was a case of yes and no. For while the tricky winger was impressing the Celtic faithful he’d grown up being a part of, he was also dealing with an intense amount of pressure and scrutiny. For a teenager, breaking through at a team full of intense characters, that’s quite a handful.

Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images

Looking back on his career in an interview with Everton’s in-house media, McGeady explained what it was like to be at Celtic, and thriving at such a young age. He said [EFC]: “I was playing for the club I supported, winning trophies and playing in Europe, which was all amazing – but there is so much pressure and expectation.

“If you don’t win, it is a crisis.

“It is a brilliant city but everyone in Glasgow is football obsessed and it can be difficult to get a minute to yourself. That is one of the reasons I left.

“I had a bit of an arrogance when I was quite young. It is a useful quality if you channel it the right way. I had the strength of character to handle the senior environment.

“But there were times I was too arrogant and cheeky and big-time for my own good. Managers didn’t want to take away what made me, me.

“But I was brought down a peg or two a few times, don’t worry about that.”

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Aiden McGeady gives honest assessment of life as a Celtic player

Wingers need confidence, arrogance even. To get the best out of attacking players, they have to believe that they’re the most talented, the most skilled and the most important people on the pitch.

In fairness, McGeady’s self-proclaimed arrogance served him well. In a career that saw him play in Russia with Spartak Moscow, and across England at clubs including Everton, he’s made a lot from his Celtic background. It’s interesting to hear, though, that someone born and raised in the environment of Celtic sometimes struggled with what being a Bhoys player brought.

Because yes, it is intense. Opinions on players can change, there’s immense scrutiny, and millions of people are watching every game. Even the biggest Celtic supporter who’s made the grade will likely admit it can get a bit intense.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

His move to Spartak Moscow in 2010 makes more sense viewed through that lens. Russian football is incredibly intense in his own way, and McGeady was already a famous footballer by this point. However, it was a total culture change, a really dramatic contrast to life in Glasgow.

A new language, a new culture, a new way of playing football, all of it.

It’s insightful stuff from Aiden McGeady, who’s still playing for Sunderland. Perhaps one day, he’ll end up moving back to Glasgow once he’s finished playing.

Read more: Juranovic, Hart and more react as Celtic full-back Bolingoli touches down in Russia