Patrick Roberts may have the opportunity to go out with the biggest of bangs this afternoon. Even a double-treble earning Scottish Cup final triumph, though, wouldn’t mask the fact that will be departing Celtic with a whimper.
The on-loan Manchester City winger, pictured, will probably be on the bench at Hampden this afternoon in his last competitive activity with the Glasgow side before rejoining parent club Manchester City. Potentially less of a firecracker farewell than a sparkler-style send-off, then.
That wasn’t what was envisaged last summer. Then Celtic staged the social media equivalent of a 21-gun salute to announce they had acquired Roberts’ services for another season, following the end of his initial 18-month loan spell. The form of James Forrest, and four months lost to a hamstring tear have reduced Roberts to squad-player status. And ensured that the 21-year-old Englishman has fixed his sights on becoming a performer in the prized arena of the Premier League.
Yet, even if he has only ever been on loan, the attacker will leave having given longer service to the club than such luminaries as Pierre van Hooijdonk, Paolo di Canio and Jorge Cadete. And Celtic won’t ever leave him.
“I enjoyed it and that’s why I came back here. I thought I had unfinished business here and I wanted to come back,” he said. “Unfortunately it’s not panned out the way I’d hoped. It happens. That’s football. But being here has been a huge honour and I’ve enjoyed pulling on the shirt and I’ll enjoy it till the last second.
“I’ll go back [to Manchester City] in the summer and see where it takes me. There have been no real conversations. There is nothing to be said, they won the league astonishingly. We’ve won the league here and have the cup final to come. No real conversations at the moment but there will be one when I go back.
“[When it comes to play for Manchester City] I have aims in my head I can climb Mount Everest but I don’t know if I’m going to do it or not. I’ll have dreams and objectives where I want to be. But it’s about me putting it into place. Hopefully my career will pan out the way I want it to. I just enjoy playing football. Wherever I play I just enjoy it. It doesn’t faze me. In the summer I’ll go back and see what happens.”
What Roberts wants to happen before that, of course, is to leave as a history-maker through helping Celtic become the first Scottish team to win trebles in two consecutive seasons. “It would be great for the fans and their support. The win is the most important thing,” he said. “But I want to get on the pitch, finish on a high and say goodbye to them. If we do it it’ll probably be one of the most important aspects of my career. I’ve hopefully got a long way ahead of me but being here will be one of the highlights and I’m just glad to be here and be in and play with a bunch of lads and win as much as we have. It’s been huge and I’ve been proud to play here.
“It’s never goodbye but I’ll always be a fan and will always come to games, even if I’m not here. I could end up back here in a few years and if so then great. But you’ve got to live for the moment and carry on life as it is.”