SHY hero Aaron Mooy produced the sort of masterclass that persuaded Ange Postecoglou to bring him to Celtic as he scored and starred in the 4-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth yesterday.
The 32-year-old Australian midfielder signed a two-season deal when he arrived in the summer – and the Hoops boss has admitted he is already having talks with his former international player about extending his stay at the champions.
Mooy, who has hit the ground running after some impressive performances in the World Cup Finals, notched his sixth goal in nine appearances since returning from Qatar with a neat lob over the stranded Remy Matthews for the third at McDiarmid Park.
FUN BHOY THREE…Kyogo Furuhashi, Aaron Mooy and Daizen Maeda celebrates the Australian midfielder’s goal against St Johnstone in Perth.
The former St Mirren, Brighton and Huddersfield engine-room operator is coy, though, when the talk comes around to a new deal.
Mooy refuses to thrust himself into the spotlight and smiles: “Long-term? I’m getting a bit older! I’m just enjoying what I am doing day-by-day and that’s as far as I think ahead. We’ll see.”
The Quiet Man has worked his way into his manager’s starting eleven with Matt O’Riley moving aside for the time being, a situation which again demonstrates the strength in depth of Postecoglou’s squad.
At the conclusion of another team success with the champions maintaining their nine-point advantage at the top of the Premiership, Mooy received his customary ovation and chant as the Hoops players took a well-earned bow in front of the travelling fans.
SEEING DOUBLE…Aaron Mooy slams in a penalty-kick in Celtic’s 4-0 win against Hibs at Easter Road in December and (below) stages an action replay as he nets from the spot in the 2-0 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice last month.
The modest performer admitted he’s not particularly comfortable in the limelight and said: “Yeah, I don’t like attention much. It’s a great feeling. I try to hold back my smile, but I can’t when the fans sing. I’m enjoying it and the fans enjoy singing it.
“You’re playing for a big club. The fans are amazing. Home and away, even around the city, back home. It’s a bit hard to explain. It’s something you have to experience yourself. I’m enjoying it.
“It is just clicking together maybe because of the role I am playing and understanding it better and linking up and playing with team-mates.
“When you get that first goal, it is like a monkey off your back and that is very pleasing. That is natural and I am just looking forward all the time.”
Mooy’s goal against the Saints was a combination of timing, skill and confidence and the midfielder, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “When you are playing football you don’t really think about things.
“You get the thing in your head and you just do it. If you think about it too much then it can go wrong.
JUST THE LOB…Aaron Mooy flicks the ball over the exposed Remy Matthews for Celtic’s third goal against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park yesterday.
“When the ball was coming over, I had the plan to take a touch and lift it over the goalkeeper. I made a late run and Jota chipped it over the top. I took a touch and tried to take it early and get it over the keeper, it was a good goal, I’m happy.”
Mooy is now on course for double figures, but, taking nothing for granted, as usual, he warned: “We will see. I just take it a day at a time, a game at a time and train and play.
“I don’t look too far ahead. I think in Australia I had a good one, 17 goals or something like that. It was a few years ago.
“I’m happy to get a few. It is such an important part of this team that you have to be chipping in.
“The squad is amazing. There are really good players here. I try not to think about it too much. If I play, then I play my game and try and do my best. That’s it.
MOOY THE MERRIER…the midfielder celebrates with his team-mates after Kyogo Furuhashi’s goal in Perth.
“When you get chances in this team, you have to take them as there are so many good players. I am happy to get another goal.
“It was a good day. We got the goals in the first-half and we got another at the end. 4-1 is a good result.”
Reflecting on the poor state of of the playing surfaces during a brutal winter period, Mooy added: “It’s just what we have to deal with. The pitches are, well, how do I say it, not great.
“It’s part of the job. We have to deal with different circumstances.”
Mooy and his team-mates return to Parkhead for the Scottish Cup fifth round meeting with St Mirren on Saturday with a 5.30pm kick-off.
He is bound to flourish in the east end of Glasgow’s very own field of dreams.