It sets goalkeepers apart from outfield footballers that approaching mid-30s doesn’t need to be the beginning of the end for careers. Yet Craig Gordon must still pinch himself over being able to enthuse about what potentially could lie ahead for him at Celtic – almost a decade on from knee problems almost put paid to playing again.
“I’ve probably never felt this good,” he said. “It’s been getting better and better for a number of weeks. I’m in a great place and my body is in a great condition. I turn 34 next week and I feel as good as I’ve ever done. Who knows how long I can go on for – I don’t want to put a limit on it. I’ll go as long as I can. Even playing on Hamilton’s Astroturf [at the weekend] didn’t affect my knees which was a problem before. I don’t feel the need to stop anytime soon.”
Gordon, 34 on Hogmanay – the day Celtic travel to Ibrox – wants to live in the now, so rosy is it for himself and his club. His spell out of side as the results of not appearing the sweeper-keeper Brendan Rodgers, pictured right, deemed a must for the team seems a distant memory.
The former Hearts man has become the player that his manager wants him to be. He has been a pivotal figure in the club racking up a season-long 22-game unbeaten run and 13 match Premiership winning streak they are looking to extend at home to Ross County this evening. Not being at Celtic beyond the 18 months he is essentially contracted for appears an alien concept to him.
“To be at a massive club is special,” said Gordon, who rebuilt a career that had seemed lost to long-term injury when he signed on with the Glasgow side in the summer of 2014. “We’re on a great run and where else would I want to be when we are challenging for trophies? It’s everything I would want as a professional footballer. I want to play in this team for as long as I can. The club has an option for a further year after the end of this season. I want to stay with the football we’re playing and the fact it’s so enjoyable things that you don’t always have.”
Many doubted that Gordon could play the football that was the prerequisite to be recalled by Rodgers – which he was with injury to Dorus de Vries after a month out.
Since his return in the last week in September, it’s no coincidence he has featured in every minute .“It’s never nice to be out the team,” he said. “That’s one position managers don’t chop and change. I did the one thing I could do and that is to go and work and be ready if the chance came.
“I did my homework and studied what he wanted me to do. I stayed back after training. I practiced long and short kicking, clipped passes, a whole range of passing styles. There’s more to it now and a variety and while I know I’m not perfect I’ll continue to work hard to improve.”
Gordon is part of a set-up “driven by both team-mates and management” since Rodgers’ summer arrival where the thirst for victories through betterment on the home front seems unquenchable. Only a late equaliser conceded at Inverness – when Gordon was on the bench – costing Celtic an unprecedented 22 straight domestic victories from the start of a season.
“It’s good that we have leaders in the dressing room and since the manager came in he has galvanised things and pushed everyone in the right direction. The club as a whole is a fantastic place to be right now. The atmosphere we’ve got going is probably the best I’ve ever had at any club. We are on a great run and we want to keep it going as long as we can.”