Hearts' Gary Mackay-Steven talks up Celtic quality ahead of Hoops reunion

By David Walton

July 30, 2021

Hearts winger Gary Mackay-Steven has confirmed he still knows plenty of the personnel at Celtic as he talked up the Hoops’ quality.

Celtic have taken a battering for their embarrassing UCL exit to Midtjylland on Wednesday night. Our 2-1 defeat to the Danish side has led to plenty of rage against the Celtic board for their failure to give Ange Postecoglou the appropriate tools for the tie.

Next up for the Hoops is tomorrow night’s massive Premiership opener at Tynecastle. Celtic will find themselves up against former invincible Mackay-Steven, who signed on in Edinburgh back in January.

Ange took responsibility, now the Celtic board must do the same

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However, the winger has always spoken fondly of the Hoops since leaving in 2017. Unsurprisingly, he’s been doing so again as he bigged up Celtic’s quality in the build-up to the feisty-looking tussle.

As quoted by BT Sport, Mackay-Steven said: “A lot has been said about Celtic but it’s still Celtic, still a massive team, a massive challenge and they have still got great players. We know it’s going to be a tough, tough game. I still know a lot of the boys there and the quality they have.

“We won’t underestimate them at all. They are as tough a game as you’ll get to start with. But at the same time we want to focus on ourselves, impose our style of play on the game and come out with a good performance and a good result.

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“It’s not just Celtic, we want to attack any team and show how good a team we are. But they play for Celtic, they are good players. They have had some mixed results but it’s going to be a tough, tough game. In this league, certainly Celtic like to impose their style, but we need to concentrate on ourselves and impose what we have been working on and bring the confidence.”

Gary Mackay-Steven still remembered well at Celtic Park despite struggles

To say Mackay-Steven was a success at Celtic would be overdoing it. He made 63 appearances in three years, bagging 10 goals and 11 assists respectively [Transfermarkt].

However, what can’t be denied is that it was trophy-laden. He left Parkhead with three league titles, one Scottish Cup, and a League Cup to his name. Plenty have left Glasgow with a lot less.

It’s clear Mackay-Steven has always been grateful for the opportunity the Hoops gave him. His career perhaps didn’t go in the direction we all hoped, but there were plenty of experiences that he’ll cherish.

Photo by Rob Casey – SNS GroupSNS Group via Getty Images

Since then, the tricky winger has had an interesting time of it. A reasonably successful spell at Aberdeen followed before going Stateside with New York City.

He came up against Celtic six times during his time with the Dons but failed to bag a goal or an assist. That’s something he’ll be itching to rectify tomorrow.

But one thing’s for sure, his admiration for the Hoops doesn’t appear to have waned.

In other news, Big goalkeeping call, fresh debut; Celtic predicted XI vs Hearts

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