Celtic captain McGregor on the Parkhead landmark that keeps him focused and humble

By Euan Davidson

March 18, 2022

Celtic captain Callum McGregor gets a constant reminder of the scale of responsibility he has every time he arrives at Parkhead.

The Hoops captain, who took over from Scott Brown in the summer of 2021, says the Billy McNeill statue outside Celtic Park keeps him grounded.

After all, if there’s any measure of what success is at Celtic, it’s iconic captain McNeill. The leader of the Lisbon Lions and perhaps the most celebrated Bhoys player of all time, his legacy is enormous. The tributes to him have only ramped up of late. Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell, where he and Bobby Murdoch attended as teens, named a new sports facility in his honour.

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And, this week, a special charity golf event was named after Billy McNeill. It’s meant that Celtic captain Callum McGregor has had ample time to remember Cesar’s legacy, as he drives this current Hoops team towards glory.

Of the famous statue of McNeill, McGregor said [Scottish Daily Mail, print edition 18/3, p.86]: “Seeing that statue keeps you humble.

“You walk in and see the size of the club, the stadium. I have been here 20 years but every time you walk through that front door you are humbled by the success.

“It keeps you hungry, keeps you wanting more. One trophy is not enough, you need to win two. Two’s not enough, you want to win three. That’s the nature of the beast at Celtic.

“You have to win things and be successful if you want to be regarded as a good Celtic player. And every time you walk through that front door you are reminded of it.”

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Celtic captain Callum McGregor is standing on the shoulders of giants, but he’s building a legacy of his own

At just 28, Celtic captain Callum McGregor could have a good long while with the armband. His first season with it has been impressive; after a shaky start, Celtic are 30 games unbeaten in domestic competition. We have one cup in the bag, are leading the league, and a Scottish Cup semi-final awaits next month.

While trebles have become something Celtic fans are used to over the last decade, this one would rank highly. After all, it’s not been the smoothest journey. Plenty of talent, leadership and experience went out the door in the summer, and that’s not easy to replace.

Still, knowing that McGregor has the legacy of Celtic icon Billy McNeill in his mind is important. Having grown up with the club, McGregor is more than aware of the history, the stories and the songs, and the legends of Celtic’s past.

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Could a club captain anywhere ask for more inspiration when he heads into work?

It seems unlikely. And while the modern-day excesses and riches of football haven’t changed McGregor, humility is a valuable trait for anyone.

With Cesar’s statue shining outside Celtic Park, it’d be impossible for McGregor to get too ahead of himself.

Read more: Jackie McNamara lauds the Celtic player ‘different from the rest’