Before this season ends, James Forrest will join the ranks of Celtic Park immortals, that handful of players who has earned the mantle of the icon.
He is not everybody’s favourite player, but he is about to do a rare and wonderful thing.
Wednesday night’s result was so bad that it overshadowed a little piece of history.
Forrest was making his 400th appearance in a Celtic shirt. In that time, he had scored 89 goals and had even more assists. Forrest has been responsible for a part in over 180 goals as a player in this team. That is an amazing and illuminating statistic.
Yesterday he scored goal number 90 in our club’s colours; he is ten away from a place in the 100 club, a group which has a mere 29 players in it. The last to reach that milestone was Leigh Griffiths in 2018.
The last to do it before him was Hartson. Larsson was the player who hit that total before that … which shows what exalted company Forrest will be in.
There are players who nearly got there.
I hadn’t realised that Gary Hooper was a mere 18 from that total when he left; it makes his departure look even more foolish I thought it was at the time.
Kris Commons, famously, was 11 goals short at the end of Ronny’s second season and you’d have put the mortgage on him making it.
Brendan Rodgers never gave him as much as a minute in the first team in order to accomplish that feat.
Stokes could have made it; he was only 24 short and could have scored them in a season and a half.
There is no question that Moussa Dembele would have made it had he seen out even his first Celtic contract. He scored 51 goals for us in his short time at the club.
Scott Sinclair actually scored 61 goals as a Celtic player and Samaras scored 71.
These are the modern players who came close but never quite got there; Forrest has already overtaken Commons; he did that with yesterday’s strike.
There is no doubt whatsoever that before this season ends he will have both 100 goals and 100 assists, where he already has 93.
That will earn him the place in the history books.
I think Forrest might well end up being the most underappreciated player ever to reach that goal.
The dislike for him which occasionally rears its head on social media is perplexing.
Even when this guy isn’t totally on form, he has enough in his locker that he can consistently produce as he did yesterday at a crucial moment.
It is fair to say that removing his contribution from the team would have almost certainly denied us many of the trophies we’ve won on the way to this campaign.
He has been at the club through every year of it.
Could he use some competition? Definitely. He is one of those players who simply walks into the team every week and that’s no use to him or to us in the long haul, but Forrest has enough talent to fully justify a place in the squad.
His contributions have been immense.
When that man scores his 100th goal for this club that will be worth raising a glass for.
He doesn’t get half the credit he deserves for those incredible statistics; he has to fight for every bit of respect, every bit of praise.
But that will be an accomplishment nobody will ever be able to deprive him of.
A place in the pantheon of legends at Celtic.
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