CALLUM McGREGOR leads Celtic into the Viaplay League Cup semi-final against Kilmarnock at Hampden tomorrow night in the knowledge he is just three hours away from his 18th Hoops honour.
The 29-year-old Scotland international has lifted six League Cup winners’ medals in that awesome silverware haul – and he has the magnificent seven in his sights.
McGregor has also picked up seven titles and four Scottish Cups in that incredible sequence since being introduced by Ronny Deila on July 15 2014 where he marked the occasion with the only goal of a Champions League qualifier against FK Reykjavik in Iceland.
DEBUT DELIGHT…Callum McGregor celebrates his first honour as Celtic captain as he holds aloft last season’s League Cup.
The dependable anchorman and onfield inspiration made a successful debut as captain at the national stadium in December 2021 just months after taking the skipper’s armband from the departing Scott Brown.
McGregor played his role in the 2-1 comeback triumph over Hibs just moments after Paul Hanlon had headed the Edinburgh side into the lead shortly after the interval following a right-wing corner-kick.
The roars of the Easter Road faithful were muted when the midfielder spotted Kyogo Furuhashi in a pocket of space and picked him out with a devastatingly accurate pass. The Japanese swept it past Matt Macey for a quickfire equaliser.
There was no looking back after that. A clever swift free-kick from Tom Rogic found Kyogo unmarked on the edge of the box and once again the striker applied a lovely finish with a lofted effort over the head of the helpless skyscraper Hibs keeper.
THUMB’S UP…Callum McGregot is all smiles as he awaits the League Cup presentation following the 2-1 success over Hibs at Hampden in December 2021.
That was the trophy breakthrough as captain for McGregor and, of course, he followed that up by piloting the team to their tenth Premiership title in 11 years at the end of an eventful campaign with Ange Postecoglou proving to be a revelation as manager.
Is McGregor satisfied with his collection of honours?
The Hoops star answers: “When the Cup competitions come around, then straightaway you have that desire to win.
“I don’t think that will ever change in me personally, it doesn’t matter how many trophies you win, you want the next one.
“And when the next one comes up, then straightaway you’re hungry for it, so, of course, that’s the ambition of the group, as well.
“We know that it will be a tough game tomorrow, it was a tough game last weekend for us, they’ll come and they’ll make it difficult and it’s about what we bring to the game, how desperate we are to win and obviously to go and show what a good football team we are.
“We’ve been preparing well this week and come Saturday we want to show everybody what type of team we are.”
THREE CHEERS…two-goal striker Kyogo Furuhashi, boss Ange Postecoglou and skipper Callum McGregor with the newly-won League Cup.
Reflecting on last season’s success in the competition, McGregor, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “It was great and I think a big moment for the group.
“It was a big moment for me personally obviously, as well, but more importantly a big moment for the group.
“I think it solidified all the good work we had been doing since pre-season and once you get a trophy in the bag it solidifies that and keeps everybody on the right track in knowing that you’re on your way to success – that first bit’s always important.
“But last season doesn’t mean anything to us now, it’s about this season and it’s about the next game.
“We’ve got to show that hunger that we want to be successful again.”