James Forrest on the best Celtic strikers he’s played with

Nine-in-a-row winger has supplied a series of top goalscorers

James Forrest relishes playing with Odsonne Edouard, right, the latest prolific Celtic striker. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
James Forrest relishes playing with Odsonne Edouard, right, the latest prolific Celtic striker. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

In the 10 years since James 
Forrest made his debut for Celtic, the winger has revelled in providing a supply line to a succession of strikers.

From Gary Hooper, Anthony Stokes and Georgios Samaras in those early days of his first team career, through the brief but electrifying spell when Moussa Dembele was leading the line, to the current front pair of Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard, there has been no shortage of talent with which Forrest has been able to strike up an understanding.

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The 28-year-old is happy to reflect on the various qualities of them all – but just don’t ask him to declare who was the best.

“I certainly would not like to be the manager who had to pick one or two out of those guys,” says Forrest.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play with many good strikers during my time at Celtic and they all help you in different ways to get better and improve your own game.

“Hooper and Stokes were great players and they had a real understanding. They used to link together really well when they played.

“Samaras was a player who could do lots of things and you look at the number of goals that Griff has scored since signing for Celtic, it’s fantastic. He’s still doing it now.

“Even in the past couple of years, I’ve heard and seen quite a few people trying to compare Moussa with Odsonne.

“You can’t really do it because, although they play in the same position, they are a different type of player.

“Obviously, Moussa did so well at Celtic and is doing so again at Lyon, while Odsonne has been brilliant for us.

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“Moussa was powerful and quick, while Odsonne likes the ball to feet and his link-up play is superb.

“Moussa was really good for us when he was here and Odsonne is doing tremendous things for us at the moment.

“He’s really chilled and laid back, but he’s come up with really big goals and big performances and it’s great to have him in the team.

“But all of them have great strengths, all of those strikers. And the one thing that you would say about every single of them is that they are all really top-class finishers who could score all types of different goals.”

While Forrest’s biggest strength is in supplying the ammunition for those at the point of the spear in Celtic’s attack, he has also made a major goalscoring contribution himself during the champions’ recent era of domestic domination.

When football was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Forrest had netted 16 times in 46 appearances this season and was on course to beat his best tally of 17, achieved in both of the previous two seasons.

He credits the arrival of Brendan Rodgers as manager in 2016 as the reason for that improvement to his game.

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“That was one thing that I remember he said as soon as he came into Celtic,” added Forrest. “It was about everyone playing their part when it came to scoring goals. He would not just want the one guy to be responsible for it.

“The season before he came into the club, Griff had scored 40 goals on his own and the next person after that, including myself, was struggling to get around 10.

“Rodgers wanted the goals spread out and the numbers of other players have gone up since that time because it was made important that you cannot rely on one player to score all of the goals.

“Everyone has to be on the same wavelength and the focus and pressure is not 
just placed onto one player at Celtic.

“Going into games, having that spread of goals and the knowledge that various players can step up at a given time to score one when we need it makes a big difference when you go into any game at 
any club.”

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