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.