CRAIG Gordon has earned just one winners’ medal in his 14 years as a professional footballer so far. If everything goes to plan for Celtic, he could hoover up another three in the next 11 weeks.
It is an indication of the prolific level of silverware collection which Gordon can hope to achieve at the club where he has re-ignited his career in such eye-catching fashion this season.
As he heads into tomorrow’s League Cup Final at Hampden, the first leg of what Celtic hope will be only the fourth domestic treble in their history, the goalkeeper can already afford to feel a deep sense of satisfaction with his return to optimum form and full fitness after two years on the sidelines with a career-threatening knee injury.
Such has been the standard of Gordon’s performances with the Scottish champions, he now finds himself being linked with a return to the English Premier League. The 32-year-old is on a list of potential targets compiled by Chelsea as they line up a replacement for Petr Cech in the event of his departure this summer. It has prompted Celtic manager Ronny Deila to call for an extended contract to be offered to Gordon. The former Hearts No 1 is typically relaxed about the situation. While he does not rule out another crack at England’s top flight, where he spent five years with Sunderland, he is currently highly content with life at Celtic.
“There have been no discussions yet over a new contract at Celtic but I’m very happy, whatever happens,” said Gordon. I saw the stuff about Chelsea. I don’t know anything about it, but I saw it. It is flattering but I’ll just concentrate on what I’m doing at Celtic and we will see what happens after that. Do I have unfinished business in England? It doesn’t really bother me. At times I played very well down there but I had a lot of different injuries which stopped me playing as many games as I would have liked.
“If England happens again, then great. If not, it’s not something that will worry me in the slightest. I have another season on my contract with Celtic after this one, then the club have the option for another season after that.”
Were Chelsea to make a move for Gordon, he would have to consider the prospect of going to the club as second choice to Jose Mourinho’s current number one Thibault Courtois. Who says I couldn’t be number one?,” says Gordon with a smile. “There are pros and cons to both things. I realise being number two somewhere wouldn’t be ideal in terms of me trying to get back into the Scotland team on a regular basis.
“But you can never tell what happens in football. Last year at this time, I didn’t even know if I would be playing football again. So we’ll see what happens.”
Gordon’s immediate priority is adding to that medal collection which so far boasts the solitary Scottish Cup winners’ badge he received as part of the Hearts side which defeated Gretna on penalties at Hampden in the 2006 final.
“I didn’t think I would have to wait as long for another cup final appearance,” he reflected. “I probably didn’t appreciate it in 2006 like I should have done, playing in a cup final and winning the trophy.
“I just thought it would come around again and I’d get another chance. But I haven’t been close until now, so I’m going to try and enjoy this one a little bit more. I’ll only enjoy it if we win the match, of course, but I want to take it in a little more this time. Looking back at that day with Hearts, we were running out of steam at the end of that season after a big push to finish second in the league and qualify for the Champions League. We were running on empty but thought we could just go out there and win the cup. We went 1-0 up but then struggled. Gretna came more and more into the game and equalised from a rebound off a penalty. They then had chances which could have won them the game. We got through to penalties but without our main penalty taker, Paul Hartley, who had been sent off.
“There was a lot going on and it almost didn’t work out for us but, thankfully, we managed to do it in the end. You can play hundreds of games in your career but it’s the moments like that – cups wins, promotions, whatever – that stick with you. They are the experiences you will remember and the ones that other people will remember when you finish.”
Gordon and his current Celtic team-mates now have the opportunity to be recalled alongside the treble-winning sides previously produced by Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill.
“We are aware of the history and we know it is a difficult thing to do,” he said. “But we have given ourselves a chance and it’s great we are still talking about the possibility.”
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