Paul Lambert expects Callum McGregor to lead Celtic by example, like Paul McStay

By Euan Davidson

June 25, 2021

Former Celtic captain Paul Lambert knows a thing or two about the captaincy, so his words on Callum McGregor and his suitability hold weight.

Luckily for the Scotland star, he’s been given the seal of approval. After years of the more combative leadership of Scott Brown, Lambo claims McGregor can be a Paul McStay type, and lead by example.

McGregor is widely expected to be Celtic’s captain in 21-22. He did his reputation no harm with his Euro 2020 heroics, being labelled “outstanding” by new boss Ange Postecoglou. McGregor has already captained the Bhoys, of course, and his demeanour and passion marked him out as captaincy material well before now. He’s also received the endorsement of Kieran Tierney and Scott Brown [Daily Record] in the past.

Lambert told the Sun:

“It’s important that the new guys who can come into the club have respect for [McGregor] and I’d imagine that would be a given.

“Callum is at an age now where he might not even have reached his peak, but the responsibility becomes more on him all of the time because he’s not classed as a young player anymore and he’s experienced.

“One thing about being the captain of Celtic is that you have that responsibility on your shoulders.

“Callum already has experience of leading the group when Scott wasn’t playing, so he’ll know the responsibility and he knows the club.”

Paul Lambert is correct; Callum McGregor, like McStay, can forge his own leadership style at Celtic

Lambert talked of previous captains, citing the example of the Maestro Paul McStay [Sun]:

“You don’t need to be an aggressive player or personality for that role. If your ability is high, people tend to rate you and there is a lot of respect there.

“Paul McStay was a famous captain. The word legend gets bandied about too often but he was. He was brilliant. Perhaps he was a quieter guy, but you can bet Paul had a bit of devilment in him on the pitch. All top players have it.

“In McStay, you are talking about a proper captain. Maybe in the wrong era in terms of not winning what his ability should have let him win. But I put him up there in the class with some outstanding Celtic captains.

“I played with guys at Borussia Dortmund who had it. Matthias Sammer, Paulo Sousa, Michael Zorc.

“All of those guys were not shouters. But they were world-class players and led by example.”

Scott Brown and Callum McGregor / (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Another former Celtic youth product wearing the armband has a certain poetry to it

Not everyone is won over by Callum McGregor’s captaincy credentials. To some, he can be perceived as a bit soft. Despite of, or perhaps because of his overuse, CalMac was perceived to go missing plenty in 20-21. While no, it wasn’t his best season by any means, it’s important to remember that he played a ridiculous number of minutes.

While yes, he’ll likely be captain under Postecoglou, the new Celtic boss will surely be more cognisant of the value of rotating the squad where possible.

If anything, his Scotland performances have made his case stronger. His public perception has changed dramatically since the tournament began. Calls for Billy Gilmour and Scott McTominay to start ahead of him became increasingly loud prior to the tournament. After missing the Czech Republic loss, he was colossal against England, and made a goalscoring mark against Croatia.

An immensely experienced campaigner, still well off turning 30, the Academy graduate seems the perfect choice. And while it’ll be jarring to see a different style of captaincy after more than a decade of Broony, it’s something we’ll have to get used to.

As long as we get used to seeing him lift trophies, of course!

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