Celtic's Anthony Ralston opens up on being overwhelmed by club's supporters
It would be enough, in itself, to pique the interest of a big-time producer that the 22-year-old’s inspiration for his journey from – essentially – deadwood Celtic squad member and fan whipping boy to integral pick for Ange Postecoglou he credits to becoming a father to a daughter that is now his everything. Yet, even more demanding of a heart-tugging soundtrack to accompany his remarkable turnaround is the Celtic defender’s genuine lump-in-the-throat reaction to how his inking a new deal to keep him at his boyhood club was celebrated by a support that, only in July, was scathing of Postecoglou being forced to play him, after handing him a new one-year deal.
“I’m one of them myself, so it’s good to see that I’ve got the backing and the support of the fans. It means so much to me. It was quite overwhelming to see all that support coming through on social media,” said the Celtic full-back. “Everyone was congratulating me, saying ‘well done’ and that I deserved it, so that was great to see those messages coming through. It was a nice moment to read through them all and see all the positive reactions to the club putting out the news. I’m absolutely delighted and hope I can keep going in the right direction.
“I would never give up on playing here, and that was the case come the end of last season. I was at the end of my contract, hadn’t been involved and wasn’t playing, so it wasn’t easy, definitely not. Whenever I was doing my training sessions it was just about getting myself right. When I did get my opportunity at the beginning of the season, that definitely stood me in good stead. It wasn’t an easy time, but I’m glad I got through it, kept myself right, and now I’m getting the rewards.”
There are now young Celtic fans with Ralston’s name on their strips and he doesn’t pretend other than it is hard to compute when he thinks about his immersion in the exploits of his club heroes when he was growing up. “Growing up I always watched the videos they had out on Henrik Larsson and Stiliyan Petrov. It was amazing around that era,” the Celtic player said. “There have been so many great players that have come through, and to think now that there are kids out there who are looking up to me is a bit surreal. I hope I can be a good role model for kids that do look towards me, and I hope that I can help them in any way I can.”
A complete 180 degree revolution in the Celtic man’s career was denied him through being overlooked by Scotland manager Steve Clarke this week – despite being the stand-out in his position this season across the country, according to Postecoglou. “I’ve said it before, it’s not my decision. It would obviously be an honour to represent my country, but my main priority is Celtic and to be playing here. All I can do is do the best I can for them, keep working hard and hope it will come eventually.”
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