"Legendary status"; The rise of Celtic captain Callum McGregor is no shock to former boss

By Euan Davidson

December 18, 2021

Callum McGregor will lead Celtic out against Hibernian in the Premier Sports Cup Final, his first final since taking the captaincy in the summer.

It’ll be a surreal, but momentous and proud moment for the Celtic Academy graduate. Since 14-15, McGregor has risen through the pecking order in Celtic’s midfield. He became a mainstay, playing a frankly unfeasible amount of minutes.

And all through one of the most successful periods in the club’s history. Tomorrow, though he’ll be hoping to write a new chapter in the Celtic story, with the armband on and most probably a lump in the throat.

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

It’s no surprise, though, to see the status Callum McGregor has achieved at Celtic. Not according to Shaun Derry, the former Notts County manager, who had McGregor on loan through the 13-14 season.

Derry said of McGregor [BBC]: “Seeing where Callum is now, it all makes sense.

“I knew how much Celtic meant to him. I knew how much he meant to Celtic.

“Now he’s the leader at that incredible, almighty football club. Brown was unbelievable for Celtic. But even though Callum is a different type of player and person, he will also go down with legendary status.

“What stood out with Callum was his drive. He was always the one that would stay behind and do extra. Even at that young age, away from his usual surroundings, he showed a great maturity to handle the situation in Nottingham and he showed that in the way he trained and conducted himself.

“Coming south and fighting in a team who were trying to stay in the league is completely different to the scenarios he’s been involved in since he went back to Celtic. It made him realise what struggle looked like.

“But I had absolutely no doubt in my mind he was going to go back and play for Celtic, it was a foregone conclusion. He’s stood the test of time up there and taken his levels on to play in Europe and win trophies.”

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This is the moment Celtic captain Callum McGregor has been waiting for

Being a captain at 28 is no mean feat. It’s testament to the work that McGregor has put in, both for Notts County, and for Celtic.

Tomorrow, though, is his moment. With a manager who has unyielding belief in him, McGregor will lead the team out at Hampden. Capturing silverware so early in Ange’s reign, and McGregor’s as captain, would be enormous. The confidence it would grow could be so significant.

McGregor had his fair share of critics last season. Who didn’t? But as vice-captain, and often captain in Brown’s absence, the Celtic Academy graduate got his fair share of stick in 20-21. Perhaps more than his fair share. In a midfield shape that changed with odd regularity, McGregor often looked a little lost. It wasn’t like him.

Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

All of that is forgotten now, though. Since the minute Ange came through, McGregor has been at his sensational best. He might be even better now, dictating the action and moving the ball quickly from defence into attack. Not unlike another former Celtic captain [YouTube].

To see him lift the Premier Sports Cup would be tremendous. But for McGregor, already one of the most decorated Celtic players in our history, it’ll only be the start.

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