PROUD captain Callum McGregor played the numbers game in Celtic’s dramatic 2-1 Premier Sports League Cup Final triumph over Hibs at Hampden yesterday.
It was the 28-year-old inspirational midfielder’s FIRST piece of silverware as captain of the club after taking over the responsibility from Scott Brown who departed for a player-coaching role at Aberdeen in the summer.
It was also McGregor’s SIXTEENTH honour as a key figure at Parkhead in the reigns of Ronny Deila, Brendan Rodgers, Neil Lennon and now Ange Postecoglou.
And the midfielder played TWO positions as he guided the side to its TWENTIETH League Cup in its history.
ON THE BALL…Callum McGregor leads by example at Hampden.
McGregor kicked off the showdown against the Easter Road outfit in the anchorman role, but he switched to a more attacking role when the unfortunate David Turnbull limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring pull in the 27th minute.
Nir Bitton came on as substitute to free his influential team-mate to take a more attacking role. The team’s onfield leader made the transition with his usual ease and the rhythm of the side wasn’t interrupted.
McGregor said: “It’s amazing. I’m super proud and super happy. I tried to speak before the game about trying to keep a lid on it and focus on the game, but it’s always in your thoughts.
“And to do it at the first time of asking just shows what the group is made of – to come here and perform on a big day with big pressure, so I’m absolutely delighted and so proud of the group.
THUMB’S UP…Callum McGregor sends a message to the fans before the trophy presentation.
SILVERWARE SKIPPER…Callum McGregor grips the newly-won League Cup.
“It’s the stuff of dreams. To be a young boy in the Academy just trying to make your way through and enjoying your football.
“You have that dream to play in the first team and to then stand on the podium with the trophy above your head as club captain is something really special to me.
“That’s something I wanted to do – to get my name on the list of captains who have won things at Celtic – it’s amazing company to keep in terms of the names, the legends who have played for this football club and who have won things.
“Hopefully, this is just the start for myself to be a successful Celtic player and captain and I’m so hungry for success.”
McGregor was instrumental in the Hoops’ quickfire reply following Hibs’ shock goal from Paul Hanlon in the 50th minute.
Straight from the restart, the ball was worked to the midfielder on the left and he picked out the pacy Kyogo Furuhashi who fired the first of his Final double low past Matt Macey.
PRIZE GUYS…Callum McGregor and his team-mates celebrate the Premier Sports League triumph over Hibs at Hampden.
McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “Kyogo is incredible. There was a little bit of an injury worry at the start of the week, but the way he’s looked after his body to get himself on the pitch – and then he looks absolutely fine.
“In the pressure moments, he’s calm, he puts the ball away.
“There are a lot of young players and new players in their first Cup Final with the club, so they need a little bit of guidance, so, hopefully, we did that during the game in the way that we played.
“But it’s brilliant for the likes of Owen Moffat and the younger guys. For Mikey, as well, I’m super happy for him. He’s had a lot of injury problems, but he’s put in a brilliant performance and also got to lift the trophy, so I’m so proud of the group.
“It was a big test of our character to go a goal down in a Cup Final at the first time of asking and to come back and answer the questions with two brilliant goals says a lot about the group.”