Callum McGregor closing in on legend status at Celtic

Celtic's Callum McGregor celebrates scoring in the Scottish Cup final. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
Celtic's Callum McGregor celebrates scoring in the Scottish Cup final. Picture: Bill Murray/SNS
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It was a target they set themselves almost as soon as they had sealed last season’s treble and the unwavering march towards a repeat performance culminated yesterday as the Celtic players again rose to the occasion.

Wrapping up their second clean sweep in a row in quick time, the man who opened the scoring, Callum McGregor and quashed Motherwell before they could gain any momentum, said it would take longer this time for the immensity of it all to sink in.

“It is still a bit raw in terms of the actual magnitude of what we have done,” the Celtic midfielder said. “It feels good to have won the [Scottish] Cup and the treble again but I think we know this is bigger than that. It is something special we have achieved with a good group of players and a good manager. It is a really special to do it with this group, we work really hard for each other and the fans. We want to give them that bit of history and to achieve it is brilliant for all of us.”

With six domestic trophies on the bounce, they have already guaranteed themselves a very important chapter in the history of a club already dripping with successes and legends.

While others have scooped individual honours for the part they have played, the 24-year-old Scotland cap and Celtic fan has quietly gone about his business, steadily growing in stature, bolstered by what is on offer rather than cowed by the scale of it all. 
With three goals in his last six Hampden appearances, he is proving himself a big-game player. In a team of winners, McGregor can boast an unbeaten record whenever he has started for his club at the national stadium and he has been happy to weigh in with goals to ensure those victories.

Yesterday’s crisp 11th-minute strike was as important as any, according to the man himself.

“This is probably the best one in terms of the magnitude of the game and what was at stake,” he said “I caught it sweet and it went in off the side of the post. It is an amazing feeling to contribute like that in a big game and help the team win.
“I knew it was going in as soon as I made contact with the ball. I felt it straight away. It was a sweet strike and I’m obviously delighted to get the goal.”

Following on from semi-final goals against Rangers last season and last month, it underlines his importance in Brendan Rodgers’ side.

“It was similar to the Rangers one,” McGregor added. “You just try to react first and then get a good contact on it and, as I said, get the first touch and get a good finish.”

He burst through the Motherwell players on the edge of the area with all the desire and intent of a guy who had stood on the Hampden slopes and dreamt of such opportunities and had idolised enough be-hooped legends.

“You hear that word and you hear all about the likes of the Lisbon Lions and people are still talking about how great an achievement that was so to think you will be in the same bracket as that…” said McGregor, who is now gunning for his own personal ten-in-a-row of trophies at the club and will be remembered forever as one of the Invincibles and the men who won the double treble.

“For guys like KT [Kieran Tierney] and me, to grow up watching Celtic and to be part of that and be in that bracket is something really special and it will probably not set in for a couple of weeks.”

Ominously for the rest of the Scottish game, the side are not ready to relax their ambitions, with Tom Rogic signing a new contract and McGregor insisting that few others will be in a rush to leave.

“It is an amazing club and we get the opportunity to play Champions League football and we are winning things every year and if you have that hunger then you will continue to do so. You see the scenes today and you see how big a club it is. You know the history and to be part of that makes you want to stay as long as you can.”