Leigh Griffiths: Historic treble better than awards double

Strikers may instinctively have a selfish streak but Leigh Griffiths has insisted that being part of Celtic's all-conquering treble-winning squad this '¨season has eclipsed the personal honours he claimed 12 months earlier.

Leigh Griffiths celebrates Celtics treble in front of the jubilant fans at Hampden Park on Saturday. Picture: Alan Harvey/SNS

Griffiths scored a remarkable 40 goals in the 2015-16 campaign, earning him the Player of the Year awards from both the Scottish Football Writers’ Association and PFA Scotland.

That status counted for nothing following Brendan Rodgers’ arrival as manager last summer, however, and Griffiths spent much of the season as second-choice front man behind top scorer 
Moussa Dembele.

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But the 26-year-old ended the domestic season in the team and was thrilled by the part he played in Celtic completing an undefeated treble.

“This is better than being Player of the Year last season,” said Griffiths. “Naturally, it’s nice to win individual awards but, ultimately, football is a team game and it’s a joy to play alongside these lads.

“From Craig Gordon all the way through, we’ve all contributed something to this achievement and that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“It’s been a whirlwind season. When the gaffer came in he wanted to win everything we were involved in. Obviously, the Champions League was always going to be difficult for us once we got to the group stage but, domestically, we’ve ruled Scottish football and long may that continue.”

Griffiths does not subscribe to the view that it may take some time before the Celtic players fully appreciate the magnitude of their unprecedented domestic dominance.

“No, the boys in that dressing room realise exactly what we’ve done,” he added.

“Winning the Scottish Cup was a great way to end the 
season, particularly with it being the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions’ success.

“We’ve made our own little bit of history now and we’re going to enjoy that. There is a sense of pride about it.

“We made history by completing the entire league campaign without losing but we’ve eclipsed that now by doing it in all three domestic competitions. It’s great and we’ve got to enjoy the moment.

“Next season will be even harder now but we’ve got to be ready for that.”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes suggested in the build-up to Saturday’s Scottish Cup final that failure to win the treble would represent an anti-climax for Celtic. Griffiths, however, insists those comments did not get into the heads of the Celtic players.

“Even if we’d lost, we’d already won two trophies,” he added. “You’re always going to have mind games from managers but, as players, we knew what we had to do and that, if we brought our A game, there was only ever going to be one winner.

“The gaffer stressed before the kick-off that we’d already made history. The fact that we’ve now added to that is something that our kids will remember for their whole 
lifetimes.

“It’s the first time I’ve won the Scottish Cup so I’m going to savour this! I won’t be taking this for granted.”

Griffiths claims he never had any doubts Celtic would find a winner at Hampden as they hemmed Aberdeen into their own half in the closing stages.

He said: “That’s our game. Our central defenders Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic had Aberdeen’s striker Adam Rooney where they wanted him and I knew that if we kept going and kept going, then the goal would come, whether it was in 90 minutes or extra time. Aberdeen were probably praying for extra time but Tom Rogic popped up with that winner in the 92nd minute and that was great for everyone concerned with this club.”