Callum McGregor’s ‘relief’ at Celtic’s 9 in a row after Leicester snub

Midfielder’s head turned by interest from Brendan Rodgers

Callum McGregor with former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

Callum McGregor says he is “relieved” to have stayed to help Celtic secure a record-equalling ninth successive title after having his head turned by former manager Brendan Rodgers’ bid to take him to Leicester City.

The midfielder was the only player to appear in all 30 league games in a season that was truncated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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He is also third in the list of highest appearances throughout Celtic’s current nine-in-a-row title sequence, with only skipper Scott Brown and James Forrest ahead of him.

McGregor has been involved in 177 of Celtic’s 334 league games since the start of the 2012/13 season and signed a new five-year deal in November. But he admits he had to think carefully about interest from Leicester City last summer, with Rodgers keen to take a midfielder who blossomed under him at Celtic to the English 
Premier League.

McGregor has admitted he might have gone had he not been re-assured that his consistent performances in the Celtic midfield were appreciated. The offer of a new deal tying him to the club until at least the summer of 2024 was one way of demonstrating his value to the club.

“I was at that stage of my career when you see things happening and stuff gets said in the press,” said McGregor. “I felt at the time that I probably could have gone, but I wanted to stay at Celtic. I wanted the club to show me how much they valued me as well.

“It went pretty quickly when we talked. The club told me they were desperate for me to stay.They could see a long-term future for me at Celtic and said, ‘This is how highly we value you’. The plans going forward were outlined and as soon as I heard that, it was a no-brainer.

“I am a Glasgow boy and that’s all you want the club to say: ‘We really respect you and this is the plan going forward’. They wanted me to stay and I need to thank the club for the tremendous loyalty they showed me. I will always give my best and it ended up the perfect scenario.”

McGregor, who turns 27 next month, has been at Celtic since he was eight-years-old. But he was flattered by Rodgers’ attempt to lure him south of the Border. The Leicester manager was also reported to have rekindled his interest earlier this year but McGregor insists he is still happy where he is.

“The stuff in the summer was nice to hear - that an ex- manager liked working with you,” said McGregor. “There was speculation and you kinda do have half an eye on that, but you are also just focused on doing your best for Celtic.

“I had a job to do for the club and as soon as I got the contract sorted, I just felt like I went from strength to strength. I am very happy at the club and that was very well reciprocated in terms of what the club did for me.”

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