Craig Gordon arrived in the east end of Glasgow yesterday morning to help launch ticket sales for the badminton world championships, which will take place in the city next year.
But before the Celtic goalkeeper joined around 250 schoolchildren for a promotional event at the Emirates Arena, where the prestigious tournament will be staged, his attention was inevitably drawn to a queue forming on the other side of London Road.
Gordon has yet to meet his club’s new manager, Brendan Rodgers, but the number of supporters waiting patiently in the heat at Celtic Park on the first day of general season- ticket sales was an eye-catching indication of the effect the arrival of the former Swansea City and Liverpool boss has already had on the Scottish champions.
According to Gordon, those inside the dressing room are equally as enthused by the identity of Ronny Deila’s successor as those who will fill the stands in increased numbers for the 2016-17 campaign.
“Personally, I think it is a fantastic appointment,” said the 33-year-old. “To get someone with such a proven track record, as Brendan has, is brilliant.
“I saw the queues at Celtic Park this morning. There’s such a feelgood factor around at the moment.
“I was in the stadium and speaking to a few people, everyone is just so excited about the start of the new season.
“With the new manager coming in, it is really positive for everybody. The players are looking forward to getting started, seeing how he wants us to play and how we fit in with that. You can see the reaction from the fans. It’s the same for the players. We have been speaking together and everybody is just excited to get in and start.
“I’ve not spoken to Brendan yet. I’ll possibly speak to him over the next few weeks before we get started. If not, it will be when we get into pre-season training.
“I’ll see what he is looking for from the whole team and also individually. You look at what he wants from your own position and how you go about putting into action his plan. That’s the interesting and exciting part from my point of view.”
With Celtic’s opening Champions League qualifier just five weeks away, the onus on Rodgers to hit the ground running is obvious.
For Gordon, it is also the most significant part of the campaign as he looks to secure Champions League group stage football for the first time in his own career after Celtic failed to qualify in each of the previous two years.
“They are pretty much the most important games of our season and they happen straight away,” added Gordon.
“That’s the reason everyone is so ready to get back in for pre-season and start well, to make sure we are ready for it.
“We have to be ready for them. We have to make sure first of all that we are physically ready. That gives you that extra bit of confidence, going out there knowing you are top shape. Then you can perform even better.
“We are looking forward to working hard, to getting ready for the Champions League qualifiers. It has given everyone that positive energy to get back and have a real go at it.
“Pre-season is always the time that you dread the most as a footballer – but it seems to be the case this time that all the players are looking forward to it. We are eager to get some hard work done, then go out and start really well.
“I’ve never played in the Champions League group stages and I want to do that. We’re all desperate to get in and get started and give it the best shot we possibly can.
“We want to be there. It’s been two years without it for the club and we want to get back in there. That starts with pre-season.
“I can’t compare the Europa League to the Champions League as I’ve not had it. But from what I’ve seen before, it would be a big difference. We want to be involved in that and to give ourselves the best opportunity. That means hard work between now and then to make sure we are ready to give it our best shot.
“Maybe the results in Europe under the previous management weren’t what we were looking for. We had a few draws and some bad luck but overall the performances weren’t as good as they could have been.
“I hope we can develop as players under the new manager. All of the players at Celtic, myself included, like to play it out from the back.
“Although we did do that at times under the previous management, there is definitely a kind of set way he [Rodgers] wants to do that. To implement that and be able to carry that out, that’s something of great interest to me. Hopefully I can do it to the best of my abilities.”
l Craig Gordon was speaking as he was unveiled as an official ambassador for the Total BWF Badminton World Championships which will take place at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow from 21-27 August 2017. Tickets and general information available at www.glasgow2017.com