Callum McGregor lifts lid on the Bertie Auld Celtic chat that propelled his career

By Euan Davidson

November 18, 2021

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has explained how a chat with Bertie Auld gave him the motivation to break into the Bhoys first-team.

Auld, a Lisbon Lion and Celtic legend, passed away this week at age 83. He’ll be sadly missed, as a charismatic, funny old soul who fans of different generations adored.

Scotland and Celtic man McGregor has highlighted an exchange he had with Bertie Auld. McGregor had just come back from a loan with Notts County. On the verge of his breakthrough under Ronny Deila, McGregor said Auld gave him the boost he needed.

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Mark Leech Sports Photography/Getty Images

McGregor said of the Lisbon Lion [Celtic FC]:

“He always got on with everybody, he always had a story to tell. [Also] he would always put a smile on your face. Like you said it’s a nice touch for the club to wearing his number at the weekend. [But] it’d only be fitting if we put in a performance and result to match how much of a great Bertie was at this club.

“When we were younger, coming through, the [Lisbon Lions] would always be around the stadium. What they did was they tried to educate the young players coming through.

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“What it felt like to play for Celtic, the responsibility that you had to perform, and certain standards you had to meet. I remember meeting Bertie one time in the player’s lounge. I wasn’t actually in the squad the time, trying to break through and get in. It just showed everything about him that he knew exactly who I was, what stage of my career as I was at.

“He just gave me that little push that I needed. Just to say “you’re in here today, but in the next couple of months, you’d better make sure you’re on that pitch.”

Of course Bertie Auld had the right words for Celtic captain Callum McGregor

You talk about Bertie Auld being a link from the 50s and 60s to now. There’s perhaps no better example than this.

McGregor would’ve had plenty of great advice and mentors around Celtic Park. But Bertie Auld had just the right things to say to spur the new captain on at a vital stage of his career.

And the thing is, he didn’t need to do that. Bertie Auld could’ve just offered some generic encouragement. He didn’t; instead he inspired Callum McGregor to try to emulate him.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

That’s a huge gesture.

Imagine having that kind of backing when you’re a young player trying to make the grade? There’d be nothing like it. Yes, your coaches and your fellow pros are important, but a club icon like Bertie Auld?

And he’s right, too. McGregor knows that it’s about more than a gesture on Saturday.

The best tribute to be to entertain. To get a big result, to send fans home happy – to play football the Glasgow Celtic way.

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