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Charlie Christie is proud to be on a Scottish Cup collision course with his son Ryan

© Trevor MartinRyan Christie was keen to get his hands on silverware from an early age, 
pictured here with his dad and sister, Paige, in 2004
Ryan Christie was keen to get his hands on silverware from an early age, pictured here with his dad and sister, Paige, in 2004

Charlie and Ryan Christie share a dream of seeing Inverness Caley Thistle play Celtic in the Scottish Cup Final on May 25.

It is only when it comes to what they would like to see happen next that things start to become a little more complicated.

Celtic midfielder Ryan was just four years old when his family took him to Celtic Park in February, 2000, to watch a Caley Jags side – led by his dad – take on the Hoops in a Third Round tie.

The Highlanders ran out 3-1 winners, and Charlie was named Man of the Match by the sponsors.

It was the result that sparked the famous “Super Caley go ballistic – Celtic are atrocious” headline, and cost Hoops boss John Barnes his job two days later.

Fast-forward 15 years to the Scottish Cup semi-final between ICT and Celtic, and the pair’s roles were reversed.

Ryan was on the pitch representing Inverness, a graduate of the club’s Academy. Charlie, by now retired and one of the coaches who had brought Ryan through, was watching from the sidelines.

What followed was another shock with Caley beating Celtic and going on to lift their first major trophy by beating Falkirk in the Final.

“I’d say that was my proudest moment because of Ryan’s involvement and because of everything it meant to the club,” said Christie senior ahead of Saturday’s semi-final meeting with Hearts.

Charlie will be at Hampden in his capacity as ICT’s head of youth development and interim academy director, before taking in the second semi between Aberdeen and Celtic 24 hours later.

“I grew up watching Celtic, back in the days of Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain, and was a player myself for a couple of years in the 1980s,” Charlie continued.

“So nobody needed to tell me what a big deal it was to beat them in a semi-final.

“The 2000 win was terrific. I hugely enjoyed that night, but it was different in that we were a wee club who pulled off a shock on the night.

“In 2015, though, Inverness were one of the best teams in the country.

“As well as winning the Scottish Cup, we finished third in the Premiership.

“We had only been around for 21 years, so it was an amazing achievement.

“And my son was right in the middle of it. You can’t ask for much better than that.”

© SNS
Ryan Christie celebrates scoring against St Mirren

This time is different. This time, as a star of the side chasing an unprecedented Treble Treble, Christie Junior is very much part of the establishment.

“It has been fantastic to see him blossom as a footballer,” said Charlie.

“The loan to Aberdeen was very, very good for his development, and he has really kicked on at Celtic.

“I watched him in the League Cup semi-final against Hearts, and the European game against RB Leipzig at home.

“Ryan wasn’t simply part of a winning team – he was the one making it happen.

“It has been an incredible six months because the confidence he has gained through his success with Celtic has helped him make an impact with Scotland as well, which means so much to him.

“He has been out injured for a few weeks, but is now back to 100% and eager to play a big part in Celtic’s push for the treble Treble, and Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifers.”

Talk of the domestic sweep which leaves Christie senior a little conflicted because he admits to likewise harbouring hopes Inverness Caley Thistle will win the Cup.

“I am trying my best not to think about who I would want to win a Caley Thistle-Celtic Final,” he said with a chuckle.

“There is a bit of work to go before then, so I am focusing all my wishes on getting that match-up in the first place.

“Hearts will certainly start favourites to win our semi-final. They are a big, powerful Premiership team.

“As a Championship side, we are a level down, though I do like to think we play the best football in our division.

“We can also take heart from the fact Partick Thistle, another team in our league, ran Hearts so close in the last round, taking them to a replay before being edged out.

“It will be a great occasion for us and especially so for our manager, John Robertson. He was a real star for Hearts in his playing days, one of the best goal-poachers we have had in Scotland.

“He is the example I still use to our young kids when I am talking to them about playing the strikers’ position.

“It is also nice that the tie will put him up against Craig Levein, a great defender for Hearts in his day, and a friend and former team-mate’s of John from way back.

“I have no doubt it is a challenge both guys will relish.

“You have to also consider it is far from certain Celtic will win through their game on the Sunday.

“Aberdeen have already drawn with them at Celtic Park since Neil Lennon has been in charge and they showed how mentally strong they are when they went to Ibrox and beat Rangers in their replay.

“I always laugh when I hear their manager Derek McInnes taking criticism. For me they are the model of consistency.

“So it wouldn’t surprise me if they were able to win.

“But, as I say, if they do it will spoil the dream Ryan and I share for the Cup Final.”