Celtic's Callum McGregor on need to "park" title win and come back next season "hungrier" and "fitter"

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has admitted his decision to play with a face mask for the confrontation with Rangers in February gave way to his club “really fancying it” for the championship race they have now run-out winners in.

Celtic captain Callum McGregor says he is "made of tough stuff" in reflecting on the decision to wear a mask for the crucial February win over Rangers that underpinned the club's progress to the title. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Celtic captain Callum McGregor says he is "made of tough stuff" in reflecting on the decision to wear a mask for the crucial February win over Rangers that underpinned the club's progress to the title. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The 28-year-old midfielder took to the pitch with the protection less than a fortnight after suffering two cheekbone fractures, but did so because he felt he “absolutely” had to set a tone. This was achieved with Ange Postecoglou’s men securing a comprehensive 3-0 victory from which they never really looked back from. “That’s what I’m like as a person anyway,” said the 28-year-old. “I’m made of tough stuff and the only reason I can’t play is if I physically can’t run.

"That’s just what I am like and other boys have carried knocks this season and played on. The mentality within the group is brilliant anyway. Boys are putting their bodies on the line for the club all of the time, but on that one, as soon as I could eat and be pain free, I knew the period we were in, and it was hugely important the squad had a leader and the big personalities on the pitch to follow. I think the Rangers game was one of those nights when you could sense in the stadium we really fancied it.”

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As, patently, did his “special” manager Postecoglou. However, McGregor cautions that all at the club cannot rest on their laurels after seizing the title back from their bitter rivals. “He’s starting to build something, but it is easy to chase people,” the Scotland international said. “When you are chasing something, it is easy, you have that hunger, naturally. The desire. It’s now the opposite. OK. We’re champions. Brilliant. Now park it. We’ll enjoy it at the weekend, but the minute we leave that building, we go away in the summer and come back, we have to be even hungrier. We have to be even fitter. There’s a target on your back and that’s where good players will show up and say: Right, let’s go again. That’s what we have to do.”

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