Few Celtic players have glided through four seasons with scarcely a critical comment directed his way but Adam Matthews can make this claim. I didn’t expect him to make it as a first team player as a 19-year-old when he arrived from Cardiff City, but he so comprehensively made the position his own, you’ll struggle to name the two right backs at the club when Adam arrived………….?
The limiting factor in his Celtic career arrived in the form of a tall Swede. Mikael Lustig has had plenty of injury problems but when fit, he’s first choice, with Adam playing backup.
Adam’s most memorable performance came against Barcelona in that game. With Lustig at right back and Emilio Izaguirre unavailable, Adam was asked to play left back. Tony Watt and Victor grabbed the headlines that night but Adam’s performance was remarkable.
He didn’t miss an angle all night, no matter how fast Barca pinged the ball, Adam was there. We faced so many balls on the wing that night but the discipline in defence was remarkable. He was clearly asked to give the Barca players space outside the box and drop to the 18 yard line, I remember yelling “Close him down” all night, but Neil Lennon had done his homework, the tactics were sound. That game is recalled so often, for so many great reasons, but while the tactical discipline deployed was not as sexy as the goals or the atmosphere, it was genuinely world class. We analyse games through different perspectives: when Celtic win like that all you hear about is the atmosphere, but if a German team had won that way, UK pundits would wax lyrical about their discipline. Adam was a big part of that success, and if he goes to Sunderland, he’ll flourish.
Those two right backs were Mark Wilson and shampoo hero Cha Du-Ri, b.t.w. But you knew that anyway, didn’t you? If you can remember the left back we signed that summer you’re doing very well. So many miss the target for every Adam Matthews.
Well done to Celtic, who have improved the look of two stadiums this week.