The fantastic example of Dane Murray's maturity; Celtic leadership role surely beckons

By Euan Davidson

March 2, 2022

Is Celtic Academy talent Dane Murray a potential Hoops captain?

The defender’s former coach, Martin Miller, has explained that leading by example has been in Murray’s repertoire from a very young age. In fact, it was the U12s side where the centre-back first showed his credentials.

Having made his first-team breakthrough against FC Midtjylland in the summer of 2021, we wondered how Murray’s season would go. Largely, he’s been used by Tommy McIntyre’s B Team, and the raw attributes are there. Confident on the ball, showing promise with his aerial duels, and instinctive defensively, he could be Celtic’s next great defensive hope.

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Miller, though, shared an astonishing story about how Murray turned around the fortunes of one of his teammates, when the two weren’t even at secondary school yet. Miller explained to The Athletic: “We had a wee boy, I won’t mention his name, who was a striker.

“His confidence suffered and he found it difficult, and confidence is so important at that age. This lasted for several months. But suddenly the confidence seemed to come back and he was scoring goals for fun. He told me it was because of Dane Murray.

“Dane had been chatting to him separately without us knowing, putting an arm around his shoulder to encourage and motivate him, and that’s what got him back on track. Dane, unbeknown to us or without input from coaches, as captain, was also texting all of his team-mates to remind them to bring their gold bands with them, their shinpads with them, to remind them what time they should be arriving at and to not be late.

“Imagine a 12-year-old doing that. Despite all the input from coaches, it wasn’t the coaches that transformed this boy. It was Dane Murray. It just blew me away.”

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Dane Murray was showing Celtic leadership credentials at U12s; that’s a promising sign

Firstly, the “gold bands” Miller alluded to? In the Academy set up, gold bands were a reward for working on a particular part of the game. So, if a player was working on improving their weaker foot, and the coaches deemed there had been progress made, the player would wear a gold band on their leg.

It’s a simple enough reward system, but it’s also a symbolic gesture for a player who’s shown real improvement. Murray was reminding his teammates to wear them. That shows maturity and emotional intelligence that’s rare for a 12-year-old.

Secondly, there’s still a road ahead for Dane Murray at Celtic. Yes, he’s made his debut, but the quality of centre-backs at the club is improved from when Murray made his Celtic debut. Dislodging the likes of Christopher Jullien, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt could take time.

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That’s a challenge that, by his former coach’s account, Murray is more than happy with. We’ve seen centre-backs of decent repute come through the Academy over the last 20 years, like Darren O’Dea and Stephen McManus, both of whom have captained the side at some stage.

Could Murray be next? It seems as if Callum McGregor has ownership of the armband for years, yet. It does no harm, though, to have another leader in that dressing room, even more so if they’ve grown up with the club and understand what it means to be at Celtic.

The signs are very promising indeed. If you can be a leader before your teens, you can be a leader in adulthood. For Dane Murray, there’s a lot to prove, but those in the know reckon there’s a big future at Celtic for the centre-back.

Read more: Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou explains what people find “weird” about him