What Ange Postecoglou told Alistair Johnston the day before Celtic derby debut

By John McGinley

March 12, 2023

January signing Alistair Johnston has been speaking about his initial experiences as a Celtic player to a broadcaster in his homeland.

The Canadian international has been really thrown into the thick of the action during his initial months as a Bhoys star, fresh from a big role at the World Cup in Qatar. He’s made 12 appearances in total with the latest coming on Saturday against Hearts.

The right-back impressed in the Scottish Cup clash, not only up for the physical battle but also finding the nice low cross that enable Kyogo Furuhashi to backheel a glorious finish past Zander Clark.

Photo by Richard Callis/MB Media/Getty Images

Alistair Johnston’s Celtic baptism of fire

It all started in a debut that is about as high-stakes as it gets for a Celtic player – away to Rangers at Ibrox with Scottish Premiership points on the line. He also competed well in that one, helping the team earn a 2-2 draw. The defender has now shared the message from his manager the day before, to set him up for the 90 minutes.

Johnston told TSN: “The manager pulled me aside a day before and said ‘Look, you just played in the World Cup. You’re more than ready for this. This won’t faze you. And these are the kind of nights that you live for, that you dream of. This is one of the reasons you signed for Celtic.

“He [Postecoglou] felt I was prepared, I felt – even though I hadn’t played a competitive match at that point in a month – I was prepared as well. Just walking out the tunnel, feeling the passion and how much it meant to the fans. Even the night before. We get to our hotel and there are fans lined up outside our hotel all night long and cheering as we drove off in the morning. You could just sense it was something bigger than football.

“I’ve tried to embrace it and the coaching staff has been really good with me with that – going through the video, understanding where I need to be, and lucky I’ve got some great fullbacks here that have shown me the ropes.”

Johnston is a first-choice pick in the starting eleven right now with Anthony Ralston still returning to full fitness from injury. He’s been more than capable of that status so far, ably filling in for Josip Juranovic on the right flank.

He may not be as out-and-out attacking or creative as the Croatian at this point, but he is defensively sound and appears to absolutely relish the combative nature of the Scottish game. It’s fantastic to see and hopefully, there’s lots more to come!

In other news, Hearts opponent concedes he can’t help but admire ‘class’ Celtic hero.