James Forrest Might Be Our Last Ever One Club Player. He Deserves A Big Night.

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We follow a football club which is finding it increasingly more difficult to keep hold of the players who the fans love most. We follow a game which is increasingly consumed by egotism and greed, the worst it has ever been in our lifetimes.

We have players, like Jota, who didn’t even give us twelve months after signing a contract to play for us “long term.” When we sign players who we’ve had on loan, how many of us refer to “permanent deals” as if there was such a thing? The media does this too. When we signed Jota that was one expression. Another was “long term contract.”

All that contract did was get us a decent fee. It’s exactly why I am pissed at our ex manager, who didn’t even give us that basic security, that minimal level of protection. There is no loyalty anymore; the insurance of those deals is all we have left.

This is why I revere those guys like Larsson, who stayed for seven wonderful years, or those club stalwarts like McGregor and Brown, who gave us a decade. It is why James Forrest, who will almost certainly become our next “one club footballer” earned this night tonight, this night which should be, but won’t be, played in front of a full house.

McGregor will never have this distinction, because of his having gone out on loan at one point. Don’t get me wrong, we will – all of us – consider him that way, but he’ll never have the official designation. There is a very real chance that James Forrest will hold the record of “last one club player” for a long time to come. Maybe for our lifetimes.

So to me, this is the night he deserves. This is a night which I was more than happy to attend, and which I think every Celtic fan who can should, because what James Forrest has given us, in the modern game, is that rarest thing; genuine loyalty.

There is no doubt in my mind that he could have gone somewhere else and made more money. That door was open for him, and before Brendan Rodgers arrived here for his first spell I think all of us believed that he would be walking right out of it. I freely admit to not having been terribly bothered at the prospect; I thought although he had certain qualities that they were not enough to balance out the poorer aspects of his game.

Like McGregor and Tierney, our other club-produced players, he blossomed under Rodgers; indeed, all of our Scottish players did, but those three were special for having been brought through the academy. For all we get criticised for not graduating enough players, fans like nothing more, not even big name signings. It is fantastic, seeing that.

James Forrest isn’t just looking likely to finish his career as a one-club man – I will consider him one now whether he ends it that way or actually plays a year somewhere else – he is a member of that other coveted Celtic group, the 100 Goals club.

Which is all the more extraordinary considering he’s not a striker.

Not only has he shown unswerving loyalty to us, he has made a vast contribution to the trophies and titles haul in that time. He was one of the best players in the UK during Rodgers’ first spell here, a dynamic attacking footballer with pace and finishing which made me think he could, and would, have done very well played through the middle.

He is line to be one of the most decorated players in our history, and although I think Callum will eclipse him there it is no less impressive for all that.

Tonight Celtic Park should reverberate to the singing of him name, and I would enjoy that sound even without the vicarious thrill of it being the same one as mine! Look, James Forrest would have been a Celtic icon in my eyes regardless of his name … he is what I want every player in our youth academy to want to be. He’s what I want them all to be.

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