JIMMY JOHNSTONE’S glittering career stalled in season 1974/75, but, at the age of 30, most onlookers were convinced he still had a lot to offer Celtic.

Jock Stein didn’t agree and handed a P45 to the little showman. It mattered not a jot the mercurial genius had illuminated the east end of Glasgow and various other locations dotted around the globe on so many occasions with his peculiar and mesmerising mix of qualities.

Wee Jinky was not the first – or the last – Hoops performer to encounter the ruthless side of the legendary manager.

WATCHING BRIEF…Jock Stein keeps an eye on Jimmy Johnstone during a training routine.

Mikey Johnston might do well to take on board the words of Brendan Rodgers in midweek after the Republic of Ireland international winger had made his first start of the season in the 4-1 win over Hibs.

The focused team boss wasn’t exactly turning cartwheels over the display of the gifted individual and, when asked about the presentation of the comeback Bhoy who spent the previous campaign on loan in Portugal, he declared acidly: “Mikey needs to do more. That’s the reality.

“He is a big talent, we need more impact from him. He’s not young, he’s 24. At some point, he has to grab the bull by the horns.”

If that devastatingly pragmatic observation from the manager didn’t hit the target, then you can rest assured Johnston’s days at Parkhead are numbered.

The Glaswegian doesn’t have to look too far for examples of the passionate Irishman’s severity in his single-minded pursuit of success for Celtic.

Anthony Stokes didn’t even get the opportunity to kick a first-team ball for the club when, at the age of 27, he was informed his services would no longer be required.

On loan to Hibs, the Dubliner had just scored two goals in the team’s Scottish Cup Final success over Mark Warburton’s “stick-on favourites” from Ibrox on May 21 2016, a mere 24 hours after Rodgers had been unveiled as the successor to Ronny Deila.

Celtic had the option of another 12 months on the frontman’s contract, but, without the merest hint of hesitation, the newly-installed team boss decided against utilising the opportunity.

ON THE MOVE…Mikey Johnston in action during the goalless encounter with Hibs at Easter Road.

Stokes had been cast adrift – somewhat cruelly thought a few at the time – and his football adventures then took him to England, Greece, Iran, Turkey and a sadly comical few days at Livingston before he drifted into obscurity.

At 32, his playing career had hit the wall. These days, unfortunately, he claims the headlines for all the wrong reasons, one, bizarrely enough, for assaulting an Elvis impersonator.

If the sudden demise in the fortunes of a reasonably talented player doesn’t register with Johnston then there will be only one outcome.

And if Jock Stein can set loose a player who had won a European Cup medal among 19 honours, made over 500 appearances and scored 130 goals for Celtic without losing a wink of sleep, you better believe Rodgers, blessed with the same relentless intensity for ultimate triumph, will be able to do likewise with any of the present-day players.

Take heed, Mikey Johnston, before it is too late.

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