LEIGH GRIFFITHS marked his comeback with a goal in Celtic’s 6-1 stroll against Austrian amateurs SC Pinkafeld during the week.
It was the Scotland international’s first strike of 2019 for the Hoops after being sidelined due to personal issues since December.
And the 28-year-old frontman is determined it will be the first of many after battling back from the brink.
Griffiths hailed the support of his family and friends, managers Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon and Hoops fans for helping him through his darkest days.
Now all he wants to do is make up for a campaign that yielded a mere six goals and to prove the doubters wrong.
Griffiths, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “It was major depression. There are a lot of people who thought I would never play football again. I just want to shut them up now.
“Other people thought I would never get back and I was never going to play again, but everyone close to me knew that I was coming back. I’ve got a huge gratitude to Celtic because without their help I wouldn’t be back.
“The manager (Neil Lennon) came in and said: ‘This is a fresh start for you, get back doing what you do best.’
“I’ve started off well and I just want it to continue.”
HEAVENS ABOVE…Leigh Griffiths celebrates his sixth – and last – goal of the season against Hamilton in November.
Griffiths revealed he has been overwhelmed by the backing he has received on his road to recovery.
He acknowledged: “I’ve had a lot of people who have messaged me on social media and come up to me and said it’s good to see you back and good to see you open up.
“That’s what you need to do. If you don’t open up and tell people what’s wrong then it starts to affect your life. That’s what happened with me for a long, long time.
“But I opened up to people and while I wouldn’t say I’m clear of it now, I have a clearer mind and I am focused on what I want to do.”
Griffiths also paid tribute to former boss Rodgers and thanked the Irishman for spotting the warning signs.
The former Livingston, Wolves, Dundee and Hibs hitman added: ‘He spoke to me and he told the club: ‘We need to give this guy time off and make sure he is right’.
“I never asked for time off. It was Brendan who said I needed to get my mind right. So, I have to thank him for that because if I had kept playing I would have done myself serious harm.
“So, I have taken time off. It has been longer than I expected.”