Like father, like son for Celtic’s Ryan Christie and Timothy Weah

Timothy Weah made an instant impact with Celtic, scoring on his debut as a substitute in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Airdrie. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Timothy Weah made an instant impact with Celtic, scoring on his debut as a substitute in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Airdrie. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
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One is the president of a country of five million people, while the other is a local hero in a city with a population of around 60,000.

George Weah was a Ballon d’Or winner and served some of European football’s stellar clubs, while Charlie Christie was a stalwart of Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s rise through the divisions in Scotland.

Their respective playing careers may have been on very different levels, but fate has decreed that both men now have sons making their own names in the game at Celtic.

As Ryan Christie wryly observes as he assesses the instant impact of his new team-mate Timothy Weah at the Scottish champions, he is unlikely to ever utter the old playground line of ‘My dad’s bigger than your dad’.

“I don’t think my old man has been the president of anything,” laughs Christie. “I don’t think my dad is quite up there with Timothy’s yet!”

Christie, however, is better placed than most to appreciate the particular scrutiny which comes to any young footballer whose father also played the game at professional level.

He was impressed by 18-year-old Paris Saint-Germain loanee Weah’s confident start to life with Celtic, scoring on his debut as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Airdrie.

“Timothy couldn’t have planned it better,” said Christie. “He did get a bit of stick from the rest of us for his goal celebration – it seemed to go on for five minutes! But fair play to him, he’s been eager to get going since he joined us during the winter break in Dubai.

“We were all delighted to see him get a goal on his debut. You can see he wants to learn. He’s still very young and, for all of the qualities he obviously has, he is a very humble. You can see his desire to come here and work hard. You also need a bit of a personality to play at a club like Celtic and he’s 
definitely got that.

“I haven’t actually spoken to him yet about his dad, although obviously we all know the great career he had and is now the president of Liberia.

“It can be difficult to grow up in football with a dad who played. For me, at the time it felt like a hindrance in some ways. But once you grow up and become a bit more mature, you realise how much of a help it was.

“I’m very lucky to have someone so close to me who has been through a career in football and who knows all of the pitfalls there are. My dad’s always been there to give me the right advice and maybe some other players don’t have that at hand all the time.

“My dad also coached me when I was a youth player. I thought it was hell for years, although I now realise how important it was. When he coached me, if we had a bad game then the whole team would suffer during the post-match team talk and then go home. But I’d have to go back home with my dad and it would keep going until 
bedtime! It could be a bit relentless.

“Back then, you don’t see the bigger picture, it’s only now that you realise he always had the best intentions. He’s always been supportive and he was delighted when I signed my new deal with Celtic this season. He’s been brilliant – he knows the game and what 
happens in it and he’s a great person to turn to if I’m in need of any help or advice.”

Celtic return to Premiership action tonight with a home fixture against St Mirren as they seek to reimpose themselves at the top of the table after their Old Firm defeat at Ibrox before the winter break.

“We’re looking to push on now and we spoke about that when we joined up in Dubai earlier this month,” added attacking midfielder Christie. “We said we wanted to hit the ground running after the break and stamp our authority on the league .

“First and foremost we want to stay on top of the table but, after that, we want to create a gap between ourselves and the rest. It’s great having a wee run of fixtures at home and, hopefully, that will stand us in good stead.

“We’ve already dropped points to St Mirren this season so I don’t think we can take this – or any other game – as a gimme. Every team in the league comes to Celtic Park with a gameplan, looking to frustrate us. Even Airdrie last Saturday had an honesty about them and they frustrated us for the first part of the game. St Mirren are of a higher calibre but they’ll be looking to do the same.”