Peter Grant spent 15 years at Celtic. He wrote the book on loyalty. He’s someone you would expect to have strong views on Dedryck Boyata’s recent attempt to hold Celtic to ransom.
But he’s also a realist. The Scotland assistant manager knows he was one of a kind, playing nearly 500 times for the club he adored. He might have done a lot of pointing but he refused to kiss the badge out of respect to the fans.
Now players think nothing of pushing for moves away and then issuing statements on Twitter or Instagram professing to always love the club they have just left. Moussa Dembele is just the most recent example.
Boyata, meanwhile, agitated for a move away earlier this season. He even missed a crucial Champions League qualifier clash with AEK Athens while in dispute with the club.
According to Grant, the central defender, who lines up for Belgium against Scotland tomorrow at Hampden Park, is simply exerting his right to push for a better deal elsewhere.
But Celtic were also within their rights to hold him to the contract he signed in good faith.
“I’ve obviously read about Boyata’s situation, I’m aware of it,” said Grant, now assistant manager of Scotland. “It’s very difficult for clubs now, the days of players staying forever more have long gone.
“Testimonials are just going to become rarer and rarer. I think you get a testimonial for three years now! I understand from the player’s point of view.
“I never ever kissed the badge because you never knew what might happen, the next day you could’ve been away.
“That annoys me a little bit these days, they tell everybody how great they are and how much the club means to them – then the next day they’re gone. The modern day footballer is different.
“The money out there just blows you away.
“There are young players down in England with weekly salaries that people up here will earn in a year. And I’m talking about under-18s who have never been in a first team dressing room picking up £24,000 a week.
“So if that’s what they’re getting then it makes you wonder what the proper first team players are getting. So I understand that.
“People say it’s a short career. Boyata made a decision, Celtic were strong on it. Nobody’s bigger than any football club. That will never change.
“The supporters and the club never ever change,” he added. “Players always change. That will always be the case.”
“I thought Boyata was excellent [on Sunday] against Rangers, I thought he defended the middle of his box exceptionally well. Crossed balls into the box he defended ever so well. It was as good as I’ve seen him play, if I’m being honest.
“Sometimes that bit of pressure coming from the supporters – the ‘you’re not fit to wear the jersey’ banner – can make you go and stand up against it and be strong enough to take it. Especially at a Celtic or Rangers.”