JOSIP JURANOVIC has praised Callum McGregor’s leadership qualities at Celtic after making only a handful of appearances alongside the club captain.
The Croatia international defender, who joined the Hoops in a £2.5million switch from Legia Warsaw in August, is well aware of the urgent necessity of influential players in the team.
Twenty-six-year-old Juranovic has Luca Modri as his skipper at country level while he also lines up regularly with the likes of Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic and Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic after winning 13 full caps.
McGregor, 28, who has been at the club since his schooldays at the academy, took over the captain’s armband in the sumer following Scott Brown’s move to Aberdeen to take up the role as player-coach at Pittodrie.
A BIG HAND…Callum McGregor applauds the Celtic fans after the 2-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park last month.
Boss Ange Postecoglou has labelled the Scotland anchorman as outstanding in the role, with both his actions and his words on and off the pitch.
Juranovic said: “I love playing for Celtic, but when you represent your country at this level of football it is really amazing. It also gives me the opportunity to play with the best midfield ever.
“We have Luka Modric, but I can also play with Ivan Perisic who has had an amazing career. We also have Dejan Lovren, Mateo Kovacic who has won Champions Leagues. It’s amazing.
“What have I learned from them? Everything, how to be calm on the ball, how we attack, how we defend. With Luka in your team you are 10 times better.”
Asked if McGregor is in that company, Juranovic, speaking to the Daily Record, answered: “Of course, because Callum has been with the club for maybe 20 years.
HIGH AND MIGHTY…Josip Juranovic prepares to congratulate Luca Modric after the Croatia captain’s second goal against Scotland at Hampden in June.
“He is a true leader, a true captain, and when he speaks we all listen. He went out of his way to welcome me to the club when I arrived, texting me a message. Every person here is a great footballer and they are good people.”
McGregor came up against Juranovic and Modric at Hampden in the summer during the Euro Championship and managed to fire in an equaliser before the interval.
However, two goals from Real Madrid ace Modric put an end to the Scots’ hopes of getting through the section as they lost 3-1 in front of their own supporters.
Juranovic added: “I did show Callum a picture from the game against Scotland where I was protecting the ball and he was behind me trying to get it. But I had it between my legs so he couldn’t get it.
“He found that quite funny.”
Let’s hope both the Scot and the Croat are still smiling after tomorrow night’s crucial Europa League Group G encounter against Ferencvaros in Budapest.