Signing a great backup goalkeeper seldom makes the difference between a successful or unsuccessful season, but things felt differently in season 2020-21. After Fraser Forster left Lennoxtown, where two years ago this week he returned for preseason training, rejecting the chance to remain at Celtic, the club were plunged into turmoil. Travel restrictions make proper scouting and we ended up paying €5m for Vasilis Barkas.
As the season progressed, Vasilis was swapped out for Scott Bain and Conor Hazard. To be fair, the defence was sufficiently dysfunctional to make it difficult to impress as a keeper.
Benjamin Siegrist made a clear impact on the Celtic support two days before his 30th birthday in January, where he denied to would-be champions until Liel Abada’s 89th minute winner. He is now mobile and commanding, enjoying a position that looked unlikely five years ago.
On joining Aston Villa at 20, he was loaned out to four lower and non-league English clubs before escaping to Vaduz in his native Switzerland. After a season, he lost his place at the club. Recovery started a year later with two seasons in the Championship with Dundee United, before promotion and two seasons in the Premiership. Before arriving at United as a 25-year-old, he made 52 appearances in senior football, just 10 more than he made last season alone.
Benjamin got a lot of things wrong in his career before blossoming in his late 20s. He is a lesson to a lot of players, and a lot of scouts.