Every trophy is special – Alastair Johnston sees no let-up at Celtic

By Sports Desk June 02, 2023

Alistair Johnston discovered that every triumph was special at Celtic when seeing the joy on serial winner Callum McGregor’s face as the captain lifted the first two trophies of the season.

Johnston is one match away from completing a clean sweep of major honours in Scotland five months after joining Celtic from Montreal.

McGregor is going for his 20th winners’ medal on Saturday when Celtic face Inverness in the Scottish Cup final and Johnston expects it would mean just as much for his skipper to again meet the demands and expectations of fans.

The 24-year-old said: “I know the extraordinary has become ordinary a little bit at this club with how many trophies they have lifted over the past decade. But still, for guys like myself, this would be my third-ever trophy in my entire career.

“And I know Cal is probably on 40 or whatever it is but even for him, when you see how much excitement and joy it brings to him and guys like that – James Forrest, I mean he might be on 50 for all I know – you can really tell how much it means.

“When you see that from the older guys who have been there and done that, especially as a new guy, you are like ‘okay, yeah, this is really big’. I am really excited and I would love to be a part of it.

“When you see over the past decade, not only the trophies but the trebles that have been won, you almost take it for granted a little bit that ‘oh, Celtic won another one, it’s not that big of a deal’.

“But now, being here and truly understanding and seeing the work that goes on behind the scenes and just the amount of effort that each guy puts in, it really rings true to me. It’s like ‘wow, each one of these is special’.

“Just because some guys have won a lot of them, it doesn’t make that next one any less special.

“I am just really excited to be in a position where I could potentially be walking out of here after six months with a treble. That is everything and more I could have asked for, but when I came in those were the expectations, that was what was put on me, it’s trophies or nothing.

“I am just really happy we are delivering for our fans so far but it will be a big match this weekend, it won’t be easy.”

Johnston’s appetite has been further whetted by seeing clips of previous Hampden success, including the penalty shoot-out that won Celtic the Scottish Cup against Hearts in 2020 to clinch the quadruple treble.

The Canada international said: “It gave you that hunger as one of the new players: ‘I want to be part of that, I want to leave my mark on this club as well’.

“As you get closer to these finals, some of those clips come up and it really puts things in perspective. You can just see the joy it brings to the fans and players. That’s something you want to be part of as a footballer.”

At one stage Johnston feared he would not be part of it after suffering a leg injury in a tackle on Rangers full-back Borna Barisic in the semi-final, but he fought back to fitness to play in the final match of the league season against Aberdeen last weekend.

“When I made the tackle, I thought it could be an issue,” he said. “Just because when I stood up and realised I couldn’t put any real weight on it.

“But the scans were better than expected and I have done a lot with the medical team, they have been unbelievable. They have been in every day pretty much with me doing the long hours because I made it really clear I wanted to be back, not only for the cup final, but I wanted to be back to be in contention for selection for the Aberdeen match because I wanted to be out on that pitch.

“You could probably see the joy it brought me being out there, I was loving life. Even though I got a bit tight, it was just precautionary to get me off.

“Now all the focus is on the cup final. I feel good enough to be able to go. I don’t think anyone is perfect at this point of the season.

“They are long years, a lot of matches, a lot of minutes on everyone’s bodies. But it’s a cup final, an opportunity to lift a trophy, and you can get through some pretty serious pain for that.”

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