CALLUM McGREGOR’S last act in Euro 24 was to have a shot charged down and then watch as Hungary broke upfield to score the 100th-minute winner FIFTEEN seconds later.

The ficklesness and fine margins between success and failure in the so-called beautiful game encapsulated in such a short space of time.

As ever, the Scots came, saw and conked out in a major football tournament where we have now failed on each and every one of the twelve occasions to emerge from our section to the next stage. That’s what I call consistency.

On this occasion, the country completed the three-game excursion in Germany anchored to the bottom of Group A with one point, earned with a reasonable performance in a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in Cologne last week.

DESPAIR…Callum McGregor can’t hide his disappointment after Scotland’s loss to Hungary.

Unfortunately, that was book-ended by a 5-1 hammering from the hosts in Munich in the opening game of the competition and last night’s 1-0 loss in Stuttgart.

The tournament will now have to get on with taking care of business without plodding Scotland and the ever-boisterous Tartan Army who were a credit to the country.

There is little mileage in recriminations and pointing fingers of guilt at Steve Clarke who did a professional job with what he had at his disposal. The manager does not have too many high-end performers from which to choose and, to be brutal, some of the current squad are bang average.

I have to wonder, though, at his decision to throw on Lewis Morgan against the Hungarians and leave James Forrest sitting on the bench. Bewildering.

However, let’s look on the positive side. The Celtic captain – and Anthony Ralston, Greg Taylor and Forrest, of course – can now take a breather after kicking off a long, arduous and, at times, turbulent season against Ross County on August 5 last year.

McGregor, now 31, stepped up to the plate when the team needed him most and led from the front as Celtic claimed a third successive title, their twelfth championship in 13 years and the 54th crown in their history.

DELIGHT…a beaming Callum McGregor after the Scottish Cup Final triumph last month.

Completing the campaign with a flourish and a Scottish Cup Final victory against Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side at Hampden on the iconic date of May 25 was the quintessential way to bring down the curtain on a rollercoaster crusade.

Now Brendan Rodgers has the task of telling McGregor not to darken the doorstep of Lennoxtown and go and catch up with his reading on a balcony/poolside/beach and enjoy some rays in sunnier climes elsewhere on the globe.

That may not be as simple a task as it sounds. The perfectionist midfielder has a habit of cutting short breaks and volunteering for early returns. On this occasion, though, the player must do as instructed – for his sake as well as the club.

There is no massive ‘S’ on the chest of the influential skipper’s green-and-white hoops. He is not faster than a speeding bullet, he is not more powerful than a locomotive and he is not able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Like the rest of us mere mortals, McGregor’s batteries require recharging every now and again. His commitment to duty is all very admirable and commendable, but he really must do as he is told on this occasion.

Our captain knows it makes sense.


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