IN THE midst of a fixture where a sense of perspective is not always easy to keep, Kris Commons had no difficulty in knowing exactly what his fourth goal in eight appearances for Celtic against Rangers meant to him.
His blistering 31st-minute strike put Celtic 2-0 up against their fallen rivals and proved conclusive in their serene progress to next month’s League Cup final.
For many, yesterday had been a day circled in red ever since the semi-final draw decreed we would witness the first Old Firm showdown for almost three years. But for Commons, 1 February will always have a deeper and far more resonant significance.
“It is a very important day as it’s seven years to the day since I lost my daughter,” volunteered Commons as he held court in the media mixed zone at Hampden after Celtic’s comfortable victory.
Lola Grace Commons was stillborn in 2008, a tragedy which is understandably never far from the 31-year-old playmaker’s thoughts.
“For that reason, it was the best goal I’ve scored. It is the emotional side of things that my missus and family are going through.
“Once you are off the park, it sinks in what you were going through seven years ago. I had family and friends here from down Nottingham way today so I’m sure they will be happier going down the road.”
It was another contribution which underlined Commons’ value to Celtic and he is hopeful it can lead to his protracted negotiations over a new contract finally being concluded. His current deal expires at the end of the season.
“If you could pull [chief executive] Peter Lawwell in he might have the contract in his back pocket now,” smiled Commons.
“Tell him I’m after a three-year deal now, not a two-year one! It is strange for me, I need to keep reminding them. What more do I need to do than say I am fit, healthy and a big player. I turn up for big games.
“I can’t see me leaving for anywhere before the transfer window closes on Monday night. I don’t know, but I have not heard anything and I am unaware of any activity. For many weeks, I have said it is in Celtic’s hands to keep me at the club.
“I’ve had conversations with the manager that I’m not leaving and that’s been pleasing for me if that’s the case. But I’m hoping sooner rather than later that my contract will be sorted.
“I’ve had confirmation that we’re getting there so hopefully that will be sorted. They’ve not put anything on the table but the word is that it is near.
“It’s something that’s been going on for far too long and it’s something that should be sorted so I can concentrate on what’s going to be a very busy and hectic few months for the team.”
Commons savoured his latest Old Firm goal which helped Celtic live up to the vast majority of pre-match predictions of success.
“Initially when I struck it I thought Steve Simonsen would save it,” said Commons. “There was a little bit of movement but I wasn’t sure if he got a slight hand to it.
“It was great to get off to the ideal start. It is great when something you dream about and put into practice on the training ground actually works out.
“We played at a good tempo, put them under pressure and got two goals really early. The biggest weakness for Rangers is they are playing in a league where they are not playing at the highest tempo. We played at a tempo that they were not used to and that shook them a bit.
“They knew they were going to be in a tough game and it was just a matter of us turning up and playing at our very best on a very difficult surface.
“We wanted to put them under pressure and see what they are all about. A lot of things had been said prior to the match which gives you fire in your belly to prove the doubters wrong and those who expect you to win but have little pops in the media hoping you slip up. We proved all the doubters wrong and those who said we were going to do it right.”