CHARLIE Mulgrew could have been a history-maker three weeks ago. Instead, he became a haunted man.
The Celtic defender is eager to atone for his miss against Barcelona and Tuesday night offers him the chance of redemption against Ajax.
If Mulgrew’s second-half header had found the net against the Spanish champions, he could have followed Tony Watt and Alan Thompson into the hall of fame for Celtic matchwinners against Barca.
Instead, it slipped wide and Cesc Fabregas finished off a ruthless counter-attack to leave Neil Lennon’s team with no points from their first two Champions League group H games.
“I probably felt the worst I have ever felt after Barcelona,” admitted Mulgrew, above.
“You can never sleep after these games but you keep running it through your mind. Even if you do get a good result, you keep thinking about bits of the game where you could have maybe done better. I have not been able to watch it back on television. Maybe in the next few days when the manager shows it. I couldn’t help but think if I had scored that chance we could have got a result, so I was up all night thinking about that.
“I actually caught the header well. I was probably trying to do too much with it. Instead of just letting it hit my head I tried to put it down into the corner. The keeper came and then went back and was close to me so I thought I don’t want to hit right at him. If he had stayed on his line I would probably just let it hit me and it would have gone in. I have thought about all the time since then.
“That night I was lying in bed and started to convinced myself it had gone in. It got that bad.
“I think if I had scored that, they would not have [scored]. Barcelona only got their chances then because we pushed on.”
The other hangover from that Barcelona nightmare is that Celtic are deprived of Scott Brown for the visit of Ajax – and perhaps two more group H games – because of the captain’s red card for kicking Neymar.
“That will be a big loss,” admits Mulgrew. “Scott is a great player. He is our captain and leader but there is no point on dwelling on that. We need to be positive. Whoever comes in, and whatever formation we play, hopefully they can do a job.
“We are probably going to have to win against Ajax to try to get second place in the group. We know it’s going to be difficult. The pressure will be on us to win but we are not underestimating them.”
Mulgrew added that finishing in third place and going into the Europa League is still not an option for Celtic. “We don’t want to think like that, the now. Right now we are looking at the Ajax game and we are going to give it everything to try to get a result.”