Ryan Christie turned an already memorable occasion into an extra special one by scoring twice to help secure a 4-1 win for Celtic over Ross County in Dingwall.
The thrill of performing in the Highlands for only the second time while wearing the hoops helped inspire another match-winning performance from the Inverness-born midfielder.
Christie scored twice to take his club tally to 15 goals for the season. He might even have struck a hat-trick but a first-half free-kick hit the junction between the post and bar.
The trip was already special since it coincided with his mother Sharon’s birthday. Manager Neil Lennon gave him permission to extend his stay overnight.
“It’s a nice change to be able to get home as my mum and dad make the trip down a few times a month,” he said. “It was nice to get all of my family to the game for once as well.”
As a former Inverness Caledonian Thistle player, he particularly relished managing to get one over Ross County at their own ground. “I was gutted to miss the last County game through suspension, as it’s always nice to play against them,” he said.
“I was probably the most excited of all the players as I was coming home. It was a chance for all the family to come and watch me, so it was good. To top it all off with a win and a couple of goals against my old rivals was nice.”
The self-deprecating Christie, who is firmly in the running for the player of the year award, believes he is one of the luckiest midfielders in Scotland because he is handed so many opportunities to score.
“I have my own targets and I want a few more before Christmas, but it’s going well,” he said. “We play a lot of games and the boys around really help when it comes to getting chances.
“Look at the brilliant pass Kristoffer Ajer played for my second goal against County.
“When you are playing in a team where boys create three or four of them for you every game, I will get more chances than most midfielders in Scotland.”
Christie was briefly alarmed to see his 11th-minute penalty saved by Ross County goalkeeper Nathan Baxter. However, he tucked home the rebound with minimum fuss. “I did panic a little bit when the keeper saved my penalty,” he said. “Luckily it dropped to me again and I was able to score. But I got hammered off the boys.
“It was my own fault,” he added. “I changed my mind at the last minute. I’ve learned that lesson!”