Talent Is Not Enough: The Ex-Celt’s Who Wasted Potentially Great Careers

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Yesterday I did a piece on Tony Watt that generated a lot of discussion, including an excellent piece over on CQN which you can read here.

No-one should assume I hate Tony Watt.

He’s simply an immensely frustrating guy.

What I do hate is seeing talent – obvious, stand out, clear-cut talent – squandered. In a world where a lot of young guys and girls struggle to make the best of what they have and never get anywhere in spite of a tremendous work ethic and dedication, to actually see someone with the whole world at their feet pissing it away … that makes me sad, and angry.

Tony Watt is a fantastically talented footballer.

He really is. Nobody who’s watched him play, at any level, is in the slightest doubt about what he has as a player. Some have described him as one of the best natural talents Scottish football has produced in decades … I don’t even think that’s an exaggeration. Because the ability is definitely there.

It’s that other thing, that work ethic I talked about, and that’s as essential to making it as having the skills. In fact, players with a fraction of his ability have gone on to decent careers because they were dedicated to the profession and gave everything in pursuit of it.

Watt can still make it. That’s a given.

He is a young guy; this hasn’t all gotten away from him.

He can still go on and be a genuinely class player, win trophies and international caps. In the end it has nothing to do with physical fitness but more a mental thing; it’s about focus and drive. If he can find the strength to dig in and commit to this game he will get from football everything that talent of his deserves, and I hope he can find it yet.

Tony Watt is not the only young player to seem as if he was on a self-destruct course with his career.

I’ve seen it happen to at least a half dozen other players at our club down through the years, with three obvious stand-out examples. Others, like Mark Burchill, Simon Donnelly and Gerry Creaney had a certain level of skill which they allowed to go to their heads … but there were three who could, and should, have done big things either at Celtic Park (where they all had a chance at greatness) or away from the club. None of them did.

Worryingly, there’s a player at the club right now who, in spite of possessing a natural ability which I think far exceeds that of Watt and the others, may not make everything of his own career that all of us hope for him.

That’s a concern, especially in light of recent events.

This piece is going to look at all four of them.

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