LEIGH GRIFFITHS will celebrate his 33rd birthday today.
This time two years ago, the one-time prolific hitman was still a Celtic player.
Now, after an unsuccessful loan stint at Dundee and a brief spell at third-tier Falkirk during the wretched 2020/21 campaign, he is turning out for Australian minnows Mandurah City.
The somersault in the former Scotland international striker’s fortunes has been as extraordinary as it has been painful for a player who claimed over a century of goals for the club.
HAPPIER TIMES…Leigh Griffiths races away in triumph after scoring against the Ibrox side in Celtic’s 2-0 League Cup semi-final win in 2015. Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes are about to join in the celebrations.
Ange Postecoglou handed him a 12-month extension on July 1 2021 to offer the frontman the opportunity to prove to the incoming manager he still had what it took to perform at the highest level at Parkhead.
Griffiths, who cost £1.2million when Neil Lennon signed him from Wolves in January 2014, scored precisely 123 goals for the Hoops and won 14 honours in his time at the club.
However, the frontman, who claimed 40 strikes in one season during Ronny Deila’s reign, didn’t play a competitive minute for Postecoglou.
He agreed a season-long temporary switch to Dens Park on August 31, the last day of the transfer deadline, but was returned to Parkhead early after scoring only three goals in 17 appearances for the doomed Taysiders.
Griffiths had his contract scrapped by the champions at the turn of the year and joined Falkirk in a short-term deal, but, after netting just two goals, was back on the look-out for a club when they failed to achieve a place in the Championship play-off.
DOWN AND OUT…Leigh Griffiths in a moment of misery.
The forward, who scored four goals in 22 appearances for his country, played a couple of games for Mandurah City in the West State League Division 1 before returning to Scotland to search for a club. He trained at ex-team Livingston, but it wasn’t long before he realised his once-deadly penalty box prowess was no longer in demand.
In October 2022, Griffiths opened up on the “massive mistake and massive regret” that brought an end to his Hoops career.
At that stage, he was considering calling it a day after being without a club for five months.
Reports had emerged in the summer of 2021 that the club and police authorities were investigating claims the player had sent inappropriate online messages to two schoolgirls.
After a full assessment, it was decided by the investigators there had been no criminality, but Griffiths acknowledged it was the error that led to him being shown the door at the Glasgow giants.
FRUSTRATION…Leigh Griffiths shows his emotion as he misses an opportunity.
In a candid interview, as reported in CQN, the fallen idol admitted: “I think that was probably the lowest point for me. I hold my hands up, I regret what I did.
“It went to the right people behind the scenes, from Celtic, the authorities, the law, and I have proved that there was no wrongdoing. But, for me, it is still a massive mistake and a massive regret.
“The longer it goes on I think: ‘Is football for me anymore?’.
“I’ve been without a club for five months now and, although Davie [Martindale, Livingston manager] has said I can come in and train with them, he has said there is no deal on the table.
“I’m still not seeing managers pick up the phone, which means do they want me at their club or is it time to call it a day? That is something I’m still considering at the minute.
“As a free agent, you’ve not got a budget, you’ve not got a price-tag on your head, everything is still negotiable.”
END GAME…it’s all over for Leigh Griffiths as Ange Postecoglou offers a pat on the head after the striker’s final appearance in the green and white hoops against West Ham in a pre-season friendly in July 2021.
Griffiths’ last appearance at Celtic Park came on July 24 2021 when he had a 45-minute cameo in the friendly against West Ham in which he received a mixed reception by the Covid-reduced crowd.
This season, he has scored seven goals in 12 outings for his Aussie club. The capacity at their trim Securitas Stadium is 2,000.
It’s a far cry from European evenings under the lights in the east end of Glasgow with Parkhead rocking and 60,000 vociferous fans urging their favourites to glory among football’s elite.
The Leigh Griffiths story should have had a vastly different ending.