CELTIC legend John Hughes has told Leigh Griffiths he has “no-one to blame but yourself” for his Hoops contract being scrapped.
The Lisbon Lion has no sympathy for the 31-year-old striker following an abrupt end to his eight-year stay at Parkhead.
Griffiths is now in limbo and likely to remain at Dundee on reduced terms until the end of the current campaign before looking to sealing a permanent deal.
Hughes, now 78, told CQN back in March that the former Scotland international hitman had “unfinished business” at his old club and insisted he owed the team a massive debt.
YOGI ON THE RAMPAGE…Celtic legend John Hughes races away from fallen Rangers duo Ronnie McKinnon and Colin Jackson during another breathtaking solo run in his Hoops heyday.
Griffiths prepared to go into the new season under the leadership of Ange Postecoglou who triggered a 12-month extension on his terms to offer him yet another chance at the Hoops. In the previous three campaigns, the once-prolific forward had disappointed big-style with a total of 25 goals, including a meagre seven in the previous dire term as the club endured its first trophyless term in 11 years.
The player’s solitary appearance at Parkhead this time out was in the pre-season friendly against West Ham before he was packed off on loan to Dundee in a season-long temporary transfer.
However, with the Dens Park club unimpressed by a return of two goals in 14 outings, they were poised to activate a break in the agreement and return the player to Parkhead for the second part of the season.
That possibility brought a reaction from the Hoops when it was clear Postecoglou had no place for the ex-fans’ favourite in his first-team plans. Celtic paid up the remainder of his contract to release him.
TWO FOR THE ROAD…Neil Lennon and Leigh Griffiths share disappointment.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, Hughes, who is the club’s seventh-highest goalscorer with 189 strikes, opened up to writer Alex Gordon, who co-authored the icon’s autobiography, ‘YOGI BARE: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’.
The one-time juggernaut forward said: “It has all gone disastrously wrong for Leigh Griffiths and he can’t point the finger at anyone else for his dramatic demise.
“He has no-one to blame but himself. You could say he got exactly what he deserved.
“That sounds harsh, but Griffiths has been every chance by a variety of managers, from Neil Lennon who paid £1.1million to Wolves to sign him in January 2014 to Ronny Deila to Brendan Rodgers and then back to Lenny.
“His form has been erratic at times, but, by and large, the bosses gave him their full backing. The wheels came off in a spectacular fashion last season, though.
HAMPDEN HERO…Leigh Griffiths lashes in Celtic’s third goal in the 3-3 draw with Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final in December 2020. The striker also netted a penalty in the spot-kick shoot-out as the Hoops completed the phenomenal quadruple treble.
“Celtic were preparing for a huge campaign, one of the biggest in the club’s history. The unprecedented tenth successive title was up for grabs and everyone had the opportunity to play their part and take a privileged place in the club’s Hall of Fame.
“Look what happened. Griffiths returned to Lennoxtown overweight after the players’ four-month Covid-enforced lockdown in which they had all been issued with their own personal diets and work-out sheets to keep them in condition.
“Yet Griffiths was the only one who was left at home when the team went to France for a four-game warm-up and that was hardly ideal preparation. It was all downhill after that.
“The forward didn’t even get into double figures last season. His strike rate over those past three years has been nothing short of wretched. Big Tommy Gemmell, my old team-mate in the sixties, was a left-back who could get into those sort of figures and better every year.
HAPPY DAYS…Leigh Griffiths celebrates one of his 123 Celtic goals.
“Look at Griffiths’ totals over that period. He netted six in 20 games in season 2018/19 and followed that up with 12 in 33 appearances. Last time out it was seven from 26 outings.
“Those are dismal tallies for a player we all know is a natural finisher. Look at his record in 2015/16 when Ronny Deila was in his second and final year as manager – he walloped in an astonishing FORTY goals. Think about that for a moment.
“That is 15 more than he has scored in total over his past three full seasons at Celtic. I think that tells you all you need to know.”
Hughes added: “We are all aware of the personal issues Griffiths has had to deal with and we have all extended our sympathy. But it was time for him to stand up and be counted and he failed lamentably to meet the challenges.
“It’s all very sad, isn’t it? I couldn’t help making the comparison during the week when Daizen Maeda made a scoring debut against Hibs at a packed Celtic Park on Monday night. I was in my usual seat and the place was rocking.
I’M NOT LISTENING…Leigh Griffiths strikes an ironic pose.
“The Japanese striker seized the opportunity to make a fabulous first impression with the best supporters in the world. A goal inside four minutes? That’s not bad going.
“Twenty-four hours later, Griffiths started Dundee’s game against Livingston at West Lothian on the substitutes’ bench. Eventually, he came on after the hour mark, but couldn’t prevent the Dens Park side from losing 2-0 in their battle against relegation.
“Both games were world’s apart. You have to wonder what is going through Griffiths’ mind when he surveys the situation.
“He was drinking at football’s Last Chance Saloon when he joined the Tayside club in the summer. That was his final opportunity to show the finishing skills we witnessed at the height of his fame at Celtic.
“There’s is no other way to put it – Griffiths has shot himself in the foot. It’s all over and, hopefully, history will be kind to him.
“He did claim 123 goals and he is one of the top thirty scorers in the club’s history. Some day he will sit down and reflect on how his Celtic career ended.
PARADISE LOST…Leigh Griffiths won’t be seen in the famous green and white hoops again.
“I was 28 when Big Jock Stein decided I was surplus to requirements and sold me to Crystal Palace. I have said it often enough, I did not want to leave Celtic. How many goals would I have scored if I had got another three years?
“We’ll never know, unfortunately. But I would have done anything to have had the opportunity. Leigh Griffiths had that opportunity and blew it.
“And, as I said before, he has no-one to blame but himself.”
* TOMORROW: Big Yogi’s verdict on the Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic Revolution.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Alloa v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.