ALISTAIR JOHNSTON made his twelfth first-team appearance for Celtic in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Hearts at Tynecastle to book a place in tomorrow night’s semi-final draw.

The Canadian World Cup Finals right-back lifted his first piece of silverware after his tenth outing when he played his part in the 2-1 Viaplay League Cup Final triumph over Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit last month.

And then Johnston claimed his first goal in the 5-1 league victory over St Mirren in Paisley week ago today.

IN CONTROL…Alistair Johnston on the ball in the 3-0 win in Edinburgh. 

It’s been a whirlwind experience for the 24-year-old Vancouver-born defender since £3.5million mid-December arrival from CF Montreal that was rubber-stamped on January 1 – 24 hours ahead of his debut in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox.

Johnston said: “These past couple of months have just been INSANITY!

“I had a week off after the World Cup, went to Glasgow, met the guys and before you know it you are thrown into an Old Firm match at Ibrox – the home of our most hated rivals.

“So, that was pretty special, but at the same time it was really cool that my manager pulled me aside the day before and told me that I had just played in the World Cup and I was more than ready for this.

DERBY DUEL…referee Nick Walsh gets between Alistair Johnston and Borna Barisic.

“He told me it wouldn’t faze me and these are the types of games that you live for – the atmosphere, going through the tunnel, that passion.

“Even the night before there were fans lined up outside our hotel all night long and cheering us as we drove off in the morning, too. I could just sense that it was something bigger than football. I remember looking around and saying, ‘right, this is Scottish football, here we go’.”

Johnston, speaking to a Canadian TV station and reported by the Daily Record, continued: “I have gone from a league like the MLS which is driven by parity – they want all the teams to be as close as possible so everyone thinks they have a chance of winning the MLS Cup.

“Then you go to a league like this where it’s been dominated by Celtic and to a degree Rangers, as well. And also you share a city with your biggest rivals.

MEDALLION MAN…Alistair Johnston tastses success after the 2-1 Viaplay League Final win.

“In Montreal, I could walk through the city, But here, even before I had kicked a ball, I would go downtown and grab a few things and have a cap pulled down low and a sweater on and I still got people coming up to me on the street saying to me: ‘Welcome to the biggest club in the world’.”

Johnston added: “It was then I started to realise: ‘Okay, this is going to be a little bit different than anything I have ever experienced!’

“The thing that stands out to me in Scotland is how nice the people are.

“They are really welcoming, good people, although they are always complaining about the weather.

“I’m like: ‘Guys it’s 8 degrees, it’s not that bad!’ Whenever someone is complaining about the weather I just tell them what it’s like in Montreal.”


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