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If Ange Confirmed One Thing Today It’s That Leigh Griffiths Is Finished At Celtic.

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And so it officially ends.

He may have time left on his contract, but this was the day when Leigh Griffiths was officially deemed to have no future at Celtic Park. The Dundee loan might or might not be cut short – it almost certainly will be – but he will not be returning to Lennoxtown.

“He’ll probably be looking at opportunities elsewhere,” Ange said, which is the equivalent of passing a death sentence on his Parkhead career. It is a sad ending, but one that over the last few years had come to look more and more inevitable.

Leigh is a player I’ve always enjoyed watching, when he’s on his game.

Because there was no finer striker in Scotland.

His goal haul in Ronny’s second season is the best a Celtic striker has managed since the King of Kings himself.

He was a predator, a natural finisher.

Scottish football has seen a lot of them, but Griffiths had genuine quality; he wasn’t one of those guys who hovers in the penalty area, like Boyd. He had good feet, vision, he could pass a ball and he was a dead-ball specialist to boot.

He had the whole package at one time. Everything except that thing, whatever it was, that numerous managers identified by its absence, that thing they all urged him to find.

That shred more dedication to being an athlete and a complete player … it just wasn’t there.

I remember only one striker of his generation who seemed to have his talents.

Like Griffiths, a Hibs boy. Like Griffiths a potent finisher. Like Griffiths, he was brought to Celtic. Griffiths definitely out-performed him in the shirt of our football club, but that wouldn’t have been difficult to do.

Because few players ever so thoroughly wasted a great talent as Derek Riordan.

There was, with Riordan, the same lack of focus. The same off-field indiscipline. The same tendency to view football only as a means to live it up and lead a wild life.

I don’t hold that against these guys, but Griffiths was repeatedly warned that it risked cutting short the best years of his career.

It certainly did with Riordan. At the age where a striker like him should be at his peak and banging the goals in at the top level he was bouncing about in the lower leagues.

That, I’m afraid, looks likely to be the future for Leigh Griffiths, barring the sort of personal turnaround which has eluded him thus far. It really is dreadful.

He finishes his Celtic career with an armful of honours, a place in the 100 Goal club, a Quadruple Treble winner.

He cost us a mere £1 million; in an era of crazy transfer fees, that is daylight robbery without a gun.

But as successful as he was, it is hard to shake the feeling that this has ended in failure.

That it has ended in a way it never should have, not even on an anti-climax, which would be bad enough, but under a big black cloud, which now hangs over the endpoint of his career.

I do wish him well. We all should, for services rendered.

But instead of becoming a Celtic icon, Leigh leaves the job only part of the way done, as a cautionary tale, a near thing, a success yes, but not, alas an unqualified one.

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6 comments

  • Justshatered says:

    Unlike a lot of guys who “never lived up to their potential “, Griffiths did for a while.
    You mentioned the season he scored goals for Ronnie’s team but the two freekicks against England were probably his pinnacle.
    Unfortunately for over three years he ripped it, taking a wage, and contributing next to nothing. Due to his unprofessionalism, and lack of foresight by the Board, we were left with one striker for the best part of three seasons.
    Like everyone else, I loved watching him on the park because there was always a threat when he played but he’s had more last chances than any player in the modern history of Celtic.

  • Solas sa Saoirse says:

    If human beings were robots, we’d some amazing footballers, alas!

  • Bob (original) says:

    Wasn’t too impressed when we signed Leigh – but as you write above, he was a natural finisher.

    He may not have been a totally focused professional, but he certainly won me over.

    And he undoubtedly contributed to the club’s silverware over the years.

    He maybe didn’t fulfil his potential – like numerous players before him – but he was a player.

    Good luck to him.

  • Henry says:

    Spot on. He was in my view an outstanding centre forward. Born to wear No 9 and loved watching him. Shame he wasted his talents.

  • Roonsa says:

    I think his first season with Rodgers as managers was the beginning of the end. He started it off brilliantly then got injured in the home game against Aberdeen that we won 4-1. He scored the most amazing goal to make it 1-0 that day but had to go off shortly afterwards because of said injury.

    We played huns at home the following week and were forced to play Dembele up front. 5-1 with Dembers scoring a hat-trick softened the blow of losing Griff pretty quickly. After that, he was always seen as second choice, particularly in Europe when Rodgers stuck rigidly to the 1 up front formation.

    I love Griff. He loved winding up the huns and did it wonderfully. They will never get over him tying a Celtic scarf to the goalpost at Ibrox. I fear that he’ll end up going down the same road as Garry O’Connor. Another great player who should be enjoying his post football years as a coach or pundit or some other easy number to help top up the wad he earned as a footballer.

  • Jack says:

    If Leigh had been fit (both mentally and physically) over the last couple of seasons, history just might have been different. Sadly it was not to be, but that’s testimony to how good a player he was in his prime. I thank him for the good bits and wish him well for whatever comes next.

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