IF the pillorying of Liverpool’s Loris Karius was a reminder of the potential pitfalls of being a goalkeeper, Scott Bain is proof things can also go gloriously right for those who play the position.
How else to describe an end to the season which saw the 26-year-old parachuted into Celtic’s historic Double Treble success, plus a summer tour to Peru and Mexico with Scotland?
“I think it is fair to say the stars have aligned for me this year,” said Bain with a laugh. “It has been unbelievable.”
This year being the key phrase.
At the start of the January window, the Scot – who was on the subs bench in Lima on Tuesday night, and due to play a half in Mexico City in the early hours of this morning – was struggling.
Following a fall out with Dundee manager Neil McCann, he hadn’t played for months and was looking to move on.
The Dark Blues wanted to loan him to Dunfermline, but he turned down the switch because he felt he shouldn’t have to drop down to the second tier.
“Some people seem to think I have bad feelings or resentment about my time at Dundee, but that’s not the case at all,” insisted Bain.
“The end wasn’t the best of times (he had been hit with a two-week fine, which he refused to pay), but I wasn’t miserable.
“I liked the players, the fans, and the club itself.
“But because of a personality clash with one man, I wasn’t getting to play football. That was the issue.
“That had to change, but it wasn’t like I was desperate to get out the door. I wanted the right move.”
He was to get it, thanks to a remarkable chain of events.
Hibs came in offering the chance to stay in the Premiership with a short-term loan in a three-way deal that saw Scott Allan move to Easter Road, and Simon Murray go to Dens Park.
Bain jumped at the chance, and would have played had he not picked up an injury. Then, when he did get fit, the parent-club rule blocked him from turning out against Dundee.
He didn’t know it at the time, but it was a great match to miss.
Had he played, he would have been unable to then move to Celtic, as league regulations prevent any player representing three clubs in one season.
As it was, the Hoops – who needed to bring a keeper in because of the long-term injury sustained by Craig Gordon, and had been unable to prise Trevor Carson from Motherwell – gave Bain a step up he could scarcely have dreamed of when out in the cold at Dens Park.
That switch paid off even more handsomely when, in March, an injury to Dorus de Vries saw their new face thrust into an Old Firm derby with Rangers at Ibrox.
Celtic went down to 10 men, but won 3-2, and their loan keeper – playing his first match in almost six months – did well enough to persuade manager Brendan Rodgers there and then to set the wheels in motion to make his deal permanent.
“Things just kept falling into place for me,” said Bain.
“Don’t get me wrong. I had worked really hard to make sure I was ready if needed, and played well when I got the chance.
“But you need the opportunities to come along for you, otherwise you are just a fit guy on the subs bench.
“Football is like that. Sometimes it runs for you, at other moments the exact opposite is the case.
“We probably notice even more sharply as goalkeepers because it is such a specialised position. You can only have one on the pitch at a time.
“Because of that, if you are not playing then you know it is usually going to take an injury to one of your peers for you to get back in.
“That, or for them to suffer a loss of form.
“You don’t like to see either of those things happen. At the same time, we know we are all likely to be on the receiving end at some time or other.
“In my case, it was a series of things. Craig’s injury made the Celtic move possible in the first place, then Dorus’s problem got me a run in the side.
“Then Allan McGregor had to pull out of the Scotland squad, which led to the call-up.
“As I have said, getting to work under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic Park – and in such a strong, settled, happy group of players – has been fantastic.
“Right from the start, my aim was to try to prove I was worthy of a longer stay. To my delight, I have managed to do that with the club giving me the four-year deal.
“Scotland has been the icing on the cake, really.
“I have been named in squads before, and not been able to play. I also travelled to the Czech Republic a couple of years back under Gordon Strachan.
“Although I was on the bench for that one, I enjoyed every minute and it has been the same story this time round.
“Playing international football is the highest honour there is in the game, and I am patriotic.
“But, as lucky as I have been, in all three cases I have had sympathy for the other guys. Of course, you do.
“The fact is, though, you have to focus on yourself, and doing the job you are there to do.
“I have always had belief in my own ability and, I’d like to think, a decent amount of mental strength.
“You need it when you are a goalkeeper because there are going to be times when people are going to give you stick – no matter whether you are keeping in the Champions League Final, or in amateur football.
“Experience teaches you how to bounce back after setbacks, big or small, and how to focus and go again.”
In this instance, Bain has strong similarities with Liverpool’s Scottish star, Andy Robertson, who missed the trip to Central and South America to play in the European club showpiece in Kiev.
Where Celtic famously released the full-back for being too small, Aberdeen let Bain go for not reaching the required standard.
Where Robertson regrouped in the lower leagues with Queen’s Park, the keeper forged a career at Alloa.
“Missing out at Aberdeen was tough to take, certainly. But then you get to a stage where you think, ‘Right, what next?’.
“In my case, it was a job and playing part-time football. I had a lot of fun at Alloa, and made a lot of good friends.
“I’d be lying if I said I spent my time thinking, ‘If I just push on here, before too long I will be a Double Treble winner and part of the Scotland squad’.
“It wasn’t like that. I had a day job (working on a building site with his dad), trained at nights and then went out and did my best on a Saturday.
“I don’t think it was nearly as dramatic a rise as Andy Robertson enjoyed. He just keeps smashing every challenge that is put in front of him. It has been great to watch.
“I think, with me, it is more a case of getting into a groove where I feel I am performing well on a consistent basis.
“Do that for long enough, take the chances that come your way, and the progress you make can surprise you.
“Days like the Cup Final, and the win at Ibrox, certainly make the 7am starts for the trips to Stranraer worthwhile.”
The only problem for Bain is exactly how to top the experience of the last six months in the campaign to come.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I’d need a good scriptwriter to keep coming up with these twists and turns, but football always seems to find a way to surprise us all.”
Of that, there is no doubt!