Lewis Morgan salutes Jack Ross for inspiring ‘meteoric’ rise

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He has never played for them, managed them or even supported them but the chances are that, before very long, all Celtic fans will owe St Mirren boss Jack Ross a debt of 
gratitude

An honest pro during a playing career which encompassed spells with Clyde, 
Hartlepool United, Falkirk, St Mirren and Hamilton Academical, the 41-year-old has already served notice that his major contribution to the game will be as a coach.

Celtic's Lewis Morgan with the Ladbrokes Championship Player Of The Season award he won after returning to St Mirren on loan. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Celtic's Lewis Morgan with the Ladbrokes Championship Player Of The Season award he won after returning to St Mirren on loan. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS

Great things are expected of Lewis Morgan, the 21-year-old playmaker Brendan Rodgers signed for the Premiership champions in January, only to loan him back to the Paisley club so that he could help them secure the 
Championship title.

Morgan’s contribution to that automatic promotion was recognised yesterday when he was presented with the Ladbrokes Player of the Year award for the second tier and his form also earned a first Scotland call-up for the forthcoming matches in Peru and Mexico.

Yet he had been a bit-part player under previous managers Ian Murray and Alex Rae and, only 13 months ago, Saints were bottom of the Championship, staring at demotion to the third tier.

The club was invigorated by Ross’s arrival and Morgan has also thrived under his tutelage.

“Jack played a massive part in the progress of St Mirren but there are other factors too – the chairman, the fans and the players,” he said.

“We got the results to stay in the Championship and then kicked on again this season. But most of the credit has to be attributed to Jack. He’s been brilliant for St Mirren and, rightfully, other clubs are looking at him.

“He’d be a massive loss to St Mirren but he deserves anything that comes his way.”

Morgan admits that the beautiful game had lost some of its allure under his previous managers but he has subsequently rediscovered his love for it under his mentor.

“The most important thing for me was that I was back to enjoying my football under Jack,” he said. “He came in, we did well and I was really looking forward to this season.

“I set myself targets for goals and I wanted to be the best player in the Championship. Thankfully, I did that, while also achieving promotion. Everything that I could have hoped for went my way.”

Morgan used the word “meteoric” to describe the reversal in his fortunes, hardly surprising as he reflects on a season which began at Stranraer but is likely to conclude in front of 87,000 Mexicans.

“There were only 849 fans at my first game of the season; mental, isn’t it?” he grinned. “The Azteca Stadium holds a few more than Stair Park, so I am looking forward to it.

“I remember scoring and setting up a couple in that game against Stranraer but it’s been a meteoric rise for me this 
season.

“It’s something I’ve been working hard for and I’m going to try to embrace it. It’s an honour to get called up to the full Scotland team. If you’d asked me last year, then I didn’t think this would come as quickly but I feel ready for it – and I am going to enjoy it.

“I’d heard a wee whisper that I might get called up and I hadn’t booked any holidays. I’m in the middle of moving house anyway so it wasn’t disruptive for me.

“Of course, I’m always aiming to be progressive, to make that transition from the under-21s to the full Scotland squad and to make the transition from St Mirren to Celtic; those are the next two steps in my career and I’ve got to make sure I keep moving 
forward.

“I’m really looking forward to these games as these are two sides who’ve been successful and will be looking forward to the World Cup so it’s important for us to test ourselves against them and get a gauge on where we are as a nation at the moment.

“This is a good challenge and I’m sure the boys will be looking forward to it. I’m sure my dad will be really proud and it was probably something he dreamed about.

“He won’t be able to go to Peru and Mexico but I won’t hold a grudge. He’s supported Scotland abroad before but this is a long flight.”