Billy Stark claims Scotland and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths was "a challenge"

By David Walton

June 11, 2019

Scotland youth coach Billy Stark has claimed that Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths was a challenge to work with when he was younger.

Stark had a four-year association with Griffiths when the Hoops striker played in the younger age groups for his country. Griffiths failed to score a single goal in any of his six appearances for the under-19s. But that all changed in the under-21s, when he notched two in 11 appearances before scoring four at senior level in 19 matches.

Griffiths is by far the best striker the country has at the moment. He’ll be set to come back in pre-season after several months out dealing with some personal issues.

Leigh Griffiths is a national hero for Scotland (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

But Stark admitted that the young Hoops forward was difficult to deal with in his early years in football. Speaking to Football Scotland, Stark had the following to say:

An exciting seven days for Celtic fans is about to get underway

“I never played for Scotland, so I couldn’t turn down any national team involvement. I’d seven great years in that job and it’s great to work with the cream of the country’s young footballers.

“I worked with guys like Steven Fletcher, Andy Considine and Steven Naismith, I gave Ryan Christie and Ryan Fraser their first caps and it was rewarding to be able to develop talented young players as internationals.

“I also had four years with Leigh Griffiths from the Under-19s onwards. That was a challenge. He always gave his all in games but was never the best trainer.”

Griff has turned it all around

Not one person seems to have anything bad to say about Griffiths when it comes to the present day. The Celtic forward is one of the hardest workers in the team. His attitude, in truth, has been spot on since signing for the club back in 2014.

Griffiths has scored goals in every competition possible for Celtic (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

His place in Celtic history has already been secured too. Griffiths has 104 goals for the club in five years. He’s managed a 40-goal season during that period too. He’s scored in the Champions League, Europa League, Glasgow derby games home and away – the lot.

No supporter can give a true verdict on what Griffiths is like in the privacy of first-team training. But it’s clear the likes of Neil Lennon is extremely fond of the former Hibernian man. Everyone would admit having him back is an enormous boost for the club ahead of the new campaign.

And you just have to look at how Griffiths has grown at Celtic too. He’s really taken on big responsibility in the past. He’s grown so much at Parkhead, and that doesn’t just come from turning up on a Saturday and playing weekly. It comes from his daily routine as a footballer on and off the pitch.

Former Celt Billy Stark has hinted that he had some problems with Griffiths (Christian Cooksey/Getty Images)

Stark may have had his problems with Griff in the past. If only he had the chance to manage him these days, however, he would surely find him to be much improved.

We all await our number nine’s return with keen optimism.