Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths to take time out from football with ‘ongoing issues’

Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is to take a step back from football to deal with ongoing issues, Brendan Rodgers has revealed.

The Hoops boss confirmed the Scotland international had “had ongoing issues for a number of months” but would not discuss them, instead saying they were “confidential”.

Professional help: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths. Picture: SNS Group

Professional help: Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths. Picture: SNS Group

Rodgers added: “Leigh will be out of football for a little period of time. He’s had issues for a number of months and he’s done amazing to get through and play to the level and score the goals that he has.

“He’s reached a point where it’s a struggle for him. We’re going to give him all the professional help he possibly needs to get himself into a good place again and come back doing what he does best.

“In order to do that, he needs to find a happiness. He’s a father of five children and he’s a great guy, but football and life is tough for him. We want to help him with that so he’ll be out of football for a period of time.”

Revealing that he had a good relationship with the former Wolves and Hibs forward, Rodgers continued: “It’s been ongoing in my time here with Leigh. I’m very close with him and he’s had a number of issues outside the football environment. “Thankfully for him, nowadays the issues that can come across young people in general have a lot of professional support. We’ll seek professional help, there’ll be an assessment of where he’s at and then a plan in place to move forward.

“It’s been a concern over a considerable period of time. There’s bouts of stability, but too regularly it’s not. This is a sport now where there’s so much focus and attention on you.

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“It’s no longer a weakness now to talk. The most important thing for managers and coaches is the welfare of players.

“It’s something that’s not easy, especially in this profession. It’s clear that he needs order in his life in order for him to show the great talent that he has. His welfare is something that’s of the upmost importance for us.

“We can help people and that’s something we aim to do with him. He has all the support of the staff and players and supporters to help him get back to a good place. He’s a great guy who just needs some help.

“He’s still very young in his career. What’s most important is we get him right and rebuild his mind and get him to a good place. If you’re happy and have the energy then you can do your very best as a footballer because he’s clearly a talent and a very big talent. 
“First and foremost, forget football. Think of the young guy as a human being and we’ll take it from there.”

The 28-year-old has played 22 times for the champions this campaign, but has struggled with injury.

He made a goalscoring return to action as a second-half substitute in the Ladbrokes Premiership win over Hamilton at the Hope CBD Stadium, but withdrew from the Scotland squad earlier this year for the matches against Israel and Portugal, insisting that he needed to focus on his fitness.