Scott Bain spent last week hoping he might have the chance to play in a Scottish Cup final. In reality he never had an earthly.
Craig Gordon stepped back in as No 1 for Celtic’s 2-0 win over Motherwell after missing the previous three league games nursing an injured right knee. He claims there was never a chance he would miss securing his place in history as a member of the team who clinched the double treble.
“I was struggling a bit but you would have needed to chop my legs off to stop me playing,” said Gordon.
“It was still pretty sore during the game but I managed to get through it and now I’ve got four weeks off.”
Gordon has some more news for understudy Bain, pictured inset, who has recently signed a four-year contract – he intends to play on as long as Gianluigi Buffon.
The legendary Italian goalkeeper brought the curtain down on his glorious Juventus career in their 2-1 win over Verona on Saturday. He is 40 and has not yet confirmed he has retired from playing completely. Gordon, who missed nearly three seasons due to a knee injury, sees no reason why he can’t last as long. He turns 36 midway through next season. Neil Alexander yesterday helped Livingston into the Premiership at the ripe old age of 40.
“I’ve still got two years left on this contract and I want to go on as long as possible,” said Gordon, right. “If my body’s OK, I’ll go on well beyond that. Buffon has just left Juventus at 40, so I’ve still got a wee bit to go if I want to catch him up. But you never know.
“As long as I’m fit enough to keep contributing to this team, keep playing in such a successful team, then I’ll try to go out there season after season.
“So goalies can go on forever. I’m not sure I’ll manage that but I’ll go as long as I can.”
Gordon was comforted by Rodgers’ decision to revert to him for Saturday’s final and the confidence the manager has been showing in him. “I knew that I could get through a game,” he said. I missed the three leading up to it. But, as long as I could get out on the pitch and feel like I could contribute, I would do that. Thankfully, the manager had faith in me to be able to do that.
“You know, it’s not easy to leave me out for the three games leading into the final and then have the faith to put me back in when it really mattered. But he did. And I’m thankful to him for that. It’s another clean sheet so hopefully that’s repaid him.”
Gordon was not as busy as he might have been but reacted well to turn Curtis Main’s shot over the bar shortly after half-time. Although injury has frustrated him at times he’s enjoyed a less troubled campaign as Celtic’s No 1 this time around after being dislodged for a spell last season by Dorus De Vries. Bain, who originally signed on loan from Dundee in January, is just the latest rival for Gordon to have to contend with.
“I think I’ve been fairly consistent,” he said. “I’ve probably played fewer games this season than last.
“I missed five games when Dorus came in, then got back into the team. It was about adjusting to what the manager wanted from me. Hopefully I can continue to do that. As long as I can do that, I’ll keep my place in the team and keep contributing to the squad.”
Meanwhile, Kieran Tierney believes he was targeted by Motherwell players because of his local connections. Two opposition players were booked for challenges on the Celtic player on Saturday.
But unlike last year’s Scottish Cup final, when he sustained a fractured jaw after a clash with Aberdeen’s Jayden Stockley, there were no lasting ill-effects felt by the Motherwell-raised full-back.
“I think that’s because I’m a Motherwell boy and I’m from there,” explained Tierney. “I’m just buzzing we’ve won the cup as that is all that matters.
“Last year it was an elbow to the jaw so just as long as that didn’t happen again it was alright.”
Tierney has been the subject of transfer speculation and manager Brendan Rodgers recently said that, such was his talent, the Celtic mad full-back is bound to move on at some stage – whether he wants to or not.
“I saw what the manager says,” said Tierney. “If I move it has to be best for both parties: the club and me. But he said it’s not the time now and I’m not thinking about it either. So I’m just happy playing here.
“You can see that I play with a smile on my face, I train with a smile on my face and that’s what happiness is.”