CALLUM McGREGOR is on the brink of making world football history.
The Celtic captain is only 90 minutes away from winning his FIFTH treble when he leads out the team at Hampden against Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup Final on Saturday June 3.
A victory over the Championship outfit will ensure a global first for the 29-year-old Scotland international midfielder.
McGregor, a product of the club’s academy, picked up his eighth Premiership title in the champions’ 2-0 triumph over Hearts at Tynecastle with second-half goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu securing the club’s second successive championship with four games still to play.
THE BEGINNING…Callum McGregor shakes hands with Hearts skipper Lawrence Shankland as he and Joe Hart lead the Celtic procession during the pre-match ritual.
The team’s onfield leader has now won 19 honours in a glittering career so far and the anchorman was the most composed performer on the field during the hurly burly of a hectic confrontation against the Edinburgh team who frantically worked to prevent the visitors getting into their stride.
The unassuming McGregor, though, refuses to get carried away and remains grounded as he says: “There is still a lot of football to be played. You just look at the next success, the next trophy that’s on offer, and you want to win it.
“We have given ourselves a good chance. It’s a Cup Final, but we have to prepare well and that includes the last four league games. We have to be bang at it, we can’t come off it – the manager wouldn’t let us, anyway.
“We just continue to play the way we’re playing, stay hungry and once we get to the Cup Final we try to deal with it the best we can.”
MIDFIELD TUSSLE…Callum McGregor watches as Matt O’Riley and Lawrence Shankland duel for the ball at Tynecastle.
McGregor admitted his immediate celebrations for another crowning achievement would be curtailed to a cup of tea as he prepares for Ibrox on Saturday and the league coundown which also takes in a return to the capital for a match against Hibs and two home outings against St Mirren and Aberdeen.
The cool customer, speaking to The Scotsman, continued: “As you get older, you probably enjoy them a little bit more because you know how difficult it is to do.
“Early on, you just think this is normal, you turn up and it happens. But when you get one taken away, it eats away at you. When you get it back, you appreciate it a lot more.
“The older guys in the group are trying to instil into the younger lads to enjoy it as much as they can. One season you might come and not win anything. That definitely hurts. so you have to enjoy the ones that you do.”
McGregor was part of the Hoops squad that failed lamentably in the quest for a historic 10 in a row titles, a spectacular flop that brought the exit of boss Neil Lennon and an exodus of players.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT…the Tynecastle message says it all as Callum McGregor and his Celtic team-mates celebrate the second successive championship in Edinburgh.
Ange Postecoglou was introduced to these shores and the hopes and aspirations of the Parkhead side were remarkably revived in one season with yesterday’s success the club’s eleventh championship in 12 years.
McGregor added: “It feels brilliant. I’m extremely proud of the group of players we have and what we’re building. To go back-to-back tells you there’s a real hunger in the group to continually succeed.
“When you have success, you have to go and do it again and try to do it in an even better fashion.
“That’s what we’ve done. You’re always looking for improvement. A lot of people think that’s [merely]points, but you have to improve performance, improve control, improve defensively and I think in pretty much all aspects we’ve got better as a team.
“Success is a habit. When you get a taste of winning you just want more. That’s what this club demands year in and year out: success.
“If you don’t meet the challenge, it’s very difficult to find yourself here for a period of time.”