Matt O'Riley names the Celtic player who absolutely wows him at Lennoxtown

By David Walton

March 16, 2022

Matt O’Riley has stated that Celtic captain Callum McGregor “steps up every day at Lennoxtown” as he gave a glowing review of his new captain.

O’Riley signed in January in a £1.5m move from MK Dons [Scottish Sun]. Since then, he’s found himself thrown in at the deep end. He’s had to play a key midfield role at some of Scotland’s toughest venues in the midst of a hugely intense Premiership title fight with Rangers.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

All of that is bound to have a mental affect on any player. Therefore, it was always going to be absolutely vital that McGregor led from the front in training. Helping to ease the new signings was always going to be a part of the new Celtic captain’s job.

And O’Riley has revealed that Callum brings a calmness to things as he talked about his first meeting with him. As quoted by the Scottish Sun, O’Riley said: “Callum’s top. On my first day he welcomed me really nicely so from that moment on I could see he was a proper man, a proper guy. He steps up every day in training. He always drives it, always demands the best from himself and everyone else. A proper captain.

“He does bring that assurance and calmness to the team, a real presence. He’s been involved in so many games — so having him there is so important.”

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Callum McGregor impressing Celtic teammates after replacing Scott Brown

It’s fair to say that McGregor has had plenty of praise from his fellow Celtic teammates since replacing Brown in the summer. O’Riley certainly isn’t the first to point out just how much he appreciates McGregor’s influence.

Last week, Joe Hart was out stating that the Hoops’ on-field leader has been “exceptional” and claimed he’s gone about things his own way [Celtic YouTube]. We’ve also had Josip Juranovic compare McGregor’s influence on Celtic to that of Luka Modric with Croatia [Glasgow Times].

As fans, we don’t get to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes. We certainly don’t get to see how influential Callum is outside of matchdays. But these comments from the likes of O’Riley, Hart, and Juranovic tell their own story.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Sure, teammates are never going to come out to the press and criticise each other. But you can tell with the superlatives coming McGregor’s way that these comments are all genuine. There’s a real love and respect for what he’s doing as Celtic captain, and it’s brilliant to see for supporters.

Brown had the same level of respect and admiration from his fellow Celtic players when he was captain. The big concern for Celtic fans heading into this season was that Callum was going to struggle when it came to demanding those same levels. Evidently, that’s been anything but a problem.

O’Riley’s comments show just how much McGregor is setting the pace at training – something you always want to hear about when it comes to your captain. It’s been a big season for him, yet he still carries it all superbly in his stride.

In other news, How the Celtic dressing room reacted to drawing rivals in Scottish Cup