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The arrival of Mila and Ange motivated Anthony Ralston to get Celtic career back on track

© Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus/SAnthony Ralston’s fortunes have been on the up since the arrival of Ange Postecoglou
Anthony Ralston’s fortunes have been on the up since the arrival of Ange Postecoglou

Anthony Ralston’s rebirth as a Celtic player has been a real family affair.

There was a time when it looked like the full-back’s dream of becoming part of the first-team squad at his boyhood idols was fading away.

Indeed, he admits it looked like the club had lost faith in him last term.

Celtic were really toiling, but still there was no place for Ralston, and he was handed just a solitary first-team appearance as the Hoops stumbled through a trophyless season.

Everything has changed under new boss, Ange Postecoglou.

Ralston has already played 31 times for the Australian manager, and picked up his first full Scotland cap.

The roots of his revival can be traced to the birth of his daughter, who came along when he was at his lowest ebb.

The 23-year-old said: “Mila was born just before lockdown, so it was a tricky time for everyone.

“But it came at the right time for me personally because it made my mind up to come back, work hard and push myself to the limit.

“I became a father when things weren’t going well with my football. That motivated me to give my daughter, who turns two in February, the best life possible.

“I knew if my chance came, I had to take it for her.

“There was a lot of motivation from fatherhood, my family and also just from myself.

“I’ve got a huge family support behind me. From when I was a kid, there’s been ups and downs.

“But every step of the way, from a young age, they’ve always been there to support me.

“They’ve been the ones who always believed in me – even when others didn’t.

“I owe them a massive thanks for supporting me through the good and hard times.

“I want to make the best career I can for myself because I’ve worked ever so hard since I was a kid.

“I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go when I got it. A lot has gone into this and I’m delighted to be where I am now.”

© Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutter
Ange Postecoglou (Pic: Colin Poultney/ProSports/Shutterstock)

Postecoglou has been the man to give Ralston the chance he has been waiting for.

That may have partly come through necessity, due to a massive injury list, but the player has made enormous strides over the last few months.

A new four-year contract came his way at the start of November, and that shows how much the club value his contribution.

Ralston went on: “Overall, there’s been a massive amount of progress made as a club since the gaffer came in.

“Every player has progressed to this point and, as a team, we’ve been brilliant. It’s important now that we keep moving in the right direction.

“To come from where I was at the beginning of the season to where I am now, it’s been a massive turnaround.

“Last season, I didn’t get much game time, and I was coming towards the end of my contract.

“It was normal to think that my time here was coming to an end.

“But I never gave up. I had the opportunity to extend for a year, I took it, and I then got playing.

“I’ve now signed up on a long-term contract. Things change in football so quickly.

“You have to just stay positive, keep the right mind-set and work hard. That’s what I did.

“I’m proud of myself for what I’ve managed to achieve.

“But it’s only the beginning for me. It’s no secret that I want to play for Celtic. I want to have my career here.

“I want to keep going in this direction but I’m delighted by how the season’s gone so far because I feel I’ve contributed to the team in such a positive way.

“I hope I can continue to do that in the second half of the season.”

© Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus/S
Kyogo Furuhashi (Pic: Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus/Shutterstock)

The Celtic supporters will hope there’s an easing of the club’s injury list when the action returns later this month.

Kyogo has been in and out recently, and the most recent blow was losing midfielder David Turnbull for two months with a hamstring injury.

Ralston said: “Those two boys have been phenomenal for us this season.

“It’s been brilliant to see what a talent Kyogo is. Of course, you’re going to miss that type of player.

“He’s such an important player for us, and coming from a different country with a language barrier, he’s done brilliantly.

“But we’ve got a good squad. The boys are all hungry, and the ones who have come in have been excellent.

“They have been ready to come in, which shows they work hard on the training pitch, even when they’re not in the team.”