Reaching a League Cup final with a clean sheet for Celtic isn’t a bad way to mark the first anniversary of inviting supposed career oblivion.
Scott Bain was unaware of the significance of Sunday’s date. He had other things to think about.
But the neatness of it being exactly a year since he was involved in a dressing-room dispute with then Dundee manager Neil McCann was a gift to those writing about the game – and its aftermath.
Bain has gone from being consigned to the bench for the Dundee Under 20s in Airdrie – that indignity befell him 12 months ago today, two days after he refused to apologise following a spat at half-time in Dundee’s 3-1 defeat to Hamilton Accies – to playing for Scotland in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. He has also since made his Celtic debut in an Old Firm derby at Ibrox. McCann, meanwhile, has recently parted company with Dundee.
Bain’s personal tale of recovery became even more like a fairytale on Sunday when he helped Celtic into another cup final with a 3-0 win over Hearts, the club he followed as a boy.
He is slowly but surely racking up the appearances for Celtic – Sunday was his tenth.
The 26-year-old has a Scottish Cup winner’s medal after being on the bench last season against Aberdeen and is in line to win a League Cup if Brendan Rodgers sticks with his policy of playing Bain rather than Craig Gordon in the competition – and Celtic can overcome Aberdeen.
Bain sees no reason why he should not be trusted with the gloves at Hampden. “The manager believes in me to give me these opportunities to play in the cup,” he said.
“It’s always great to be involved in big occasions like Sunday.”
“You can never be sure to play,” he added. “At a club like Celtic you always want your best team out there. The manager gave me the nod at the weekend but we’ll see what happens (next month).”
He would certainly relish keeping his place for Celtic’s next assignment – at Dundee tomorrow night.
He’s not been back to Dens Park since he joined the Parkhead side on the last day of last January’s transfer window following a short stint on loan at Hibs.
“Dundee? I’d take any game to be honest. I want to do my best. Whoever plays we all support each other it’s about doing the best for the club.
“He [Rodgers] has just told me on a game-by-game basis and I’ve been fortunate to be on the winning side and kept my place in the competition. “I’ve only lost once at Celtic – Aberdeen in the last game of the season, and it still hurts a wee bit!”
Having played for Scotland against Mexico in front of just over 70,000 he was not unduly fazed by the 61,121 attendance at Murrayfield on Sunday – the largest for a match in Scottish football in nearly 30 years.
Despite growing up in Edinburgh, the Murrayfield experience was a new one for him.
“I stay pretty close to Murrayfield and pass by it nearly every day,” he said. “I never thought I’d be playing there. It’s a rugby stadium and I’m definitely not built for rugby!
“It was great, though, a big occasion and I really enjoyed it. There was a great atmosphere, it’s a little bit tighter in than Hampden. There’s a cauldron going on there. “The surface is good as well, but the most enjoyable thing was winning the game.
“I didn’t have too much to deal with [against Hearts] but you can’t go looking for things to do. It’s a one- off game and you need to do the fundamentals right and that will show you are competent and you can deal with the big games.
“There’s pressure when you’ve not played but there’s always pressure at a big club like Celtic. You are playing for a lot of fans across the world.
“You are also playing for yourself and your team-mates, so, when you get the chance, you need to take it.”
He has done this on each occasion he has been called on by Celtic, no more impressively than when suddenly called upon to make his debut against Rangers at Ibrox in March.
He conceded twice early on in the game but ended up on the winning side after Celtic recovered to win 3-2.
“Ibrox might have set the tone,’ he said. “It’s been like that since I came in. Play a game here or there. I was lucky to get a run when I first came on loan last season.
“It’s a case of getting an opportunity and making the most when the chance comes.”