THE first thought on hearing that Leigh Griffiths had signed a new contract to tie himself to Celtic for the next six years was this: is that even legal in football, these days? While the second thought was to wonder if the Parkhead powerbrokers were now seeking to channel the spirit of Dundee United autocrat Jim McLean in their player contract arrangements.
Of course, the reality is that the mutual benefits of Griffiths’ willingness to give the best years of his career to Celtic probably meant there was obviously a ‘why not’ element to agreeing the deal till 2021. The 25-year-old has grown up and grown into being a talismanic striker for the club in the mould of only Gary Hooper, Scott McDonald, John Hartson, Chris Sutton and, dare it be said, Henrik Larsson in the past decade-and-a-half.
Griffiths has already played more games, and scored more goals, for Celtic than any of the other teams on a CV that features Livingston, Dundee, Wolves and his beloved Hibs. And as he always pleaded was his fervent hope, his appearances in the press now tend to be restricted to the back pages.
Contentment on the pitch and in his private life genuinely opens up grand possibilities when it comes to making an historic mark at Celtic, and within Scottish football. Between his stints with Hibernian and his current employers, he has netted 65 top flight goals. At his current rate, it is possible that seeing out his career at Celtic could put him among the upper echelons of post-war highest level goalscorers.
Only four players have past the 200 figure. Meanwhile, 45 goals in all competitions for Celtic, Griffiths will surely become the first Celtic player since John Hartson to join the club’s 28-member strong 100-goal club. The next five years could fly by in a blur of goals, if Griffiths keeps it together in body and mind.