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Callum McGregor hails ‘spectacular’ title win as rebuild pays off for Celtic

Celtic’s Callum McGregor reacts after the cinch Premiership title is sealed (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Celtic’s Callum McGregor reacts after the cinch Premiership title is sealed (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Callum McGregor admits Celtic’s title win was all the more special after the difficulties of last term and the major rebuild that followed.

McGregor suffered his first barren campaign as a Celtic player as their bid for a record 10th consecutive title collapsed, and was then handed the captain’s armband after the departure of Scott Brown and a number of other established players.

Ange Postecoglou also arrived along with 15 new players over the course of the past 12 months, and the transformation came to fruition quickly as Celtic clinched the cinch Premiership crown on Wednesday.

“Pretty much everybody to a man has made an impact and that’s what we needed,” McGregor said.

“It was a huge rebuilding job off the back of a disappointing season but, for me personally, I just wanted to put that behind me and prove to everyone it was a one-off and this group of players have helped me do that.

“You always want to get better and develop as a player and as a person and, when I was handed the armband, I knew it was my responsibility to bring success back to this football club, and I am so happy and delighted that we have managed to do that.

“And this group of players have helped the club and me achieve that, and I owe them a lot the way they have come in and delivered from all over the world and settled so quickly.

“To produce the performances along with the manager’s vision and mindset for the club has been spectacular.”

Celtic lost their first three away games and a 1-1 home draw with Dundee United in their seventh game meant they had dropped more points than they had won.

They subsequently claimed their first domestic away win in eight months thanks to Jota’s late winner at Aberdeen and are now 31 league games unbeaten ahead of the final match of the season against Motherwell on Saturday.

McGregor said: “After six games, I think we were sixth or something and it was big pressure.

“But we spoke about it the other day that, even in those moments and six games, the team was coming together and all we needed was a moment for the group to say: ‘We believe, let’s go.’

“And I think the one away at Aberdeen was a big moment. There were others, but that was a big one to say we’re a good side who can go and play football and also win.

“Ever since that moment, you felt within the group there was a different mentality and that seems to have spurred them on.

“All the good football we were playing was good, but you have to win and marry that if you want to win things. Be strong. So that was a big turning point.”

McGregor added: “When we beat Rangers at home was a big one. (Before the winter break) we were winning and so were Rangers and the gap stayed at six.

“So we knew we had a bit of work to do and looked at that in the winter break and just sort of fine-tuned the way we wanted to play.

“Get boys to strengthen the squad a little bit and those boys have had a huge impact as well, but I think a big win like that naturally gives the team confidence and I think at that point, we realised we could go past them and that’s what we did.”