Entertainment, Sports

Anthony Ralston reflects on Celtic career renaissance this season

IN terms of Hollywood moments, Anthony Ralston could offer a script of redemption to sell to the movie moguls.

At Celtic since he was just 8, the right-back was so far out of the picture to have been dismissed entirely as part of any Ange Postecoglou rebuild this season.

Crediting the catalyst for his renaissance this season to his toddler daughter, Mila, who will turn two this February, Ralston has noted how is everything at home meant he gave everything on the pitch as he finally found himself one of the leading lights. 

A new four-year deal was the reward back in November with the real barometer of just how his season has gone coming from the positive reaction from supporters who had been wanting him jettisoned from the club this summer.

“I’ve got a huge family support behind me,” said Ralston. “From when I was a kid, there’s been ups and downs. But every step of the way, from a young age, they’ve always been there to support me. 

“They’ve been the ones who always believed in me – even when others didn’t. So I owe them a massive thanks for supporting me through the good and hard times. 

“I became a father when things weren’t going well with my football. But that motivated me to give my daughter the best life possible.  

“When things weren’t going well, that really pushed me to come in every day and work hard.  I knew if my chance came, I had to take it for her. There was a lot of motivation from fatherhood, my family and also just from myself. 

“I want to make the best career I can for myself because I’ve worked ever so hard since I was a kid. I wasn’t going to let the opportunity go when I got it. A lot has gone into this and I’m delighted to be where I am now. 

“Mila was born just before lockdown so it was a tricky time for everyone. But it came at the right time for me personally because it motivated me to come back and push myself to the limit.”

If there has been one blip this term it will have come at the Premier Sports Cup final when he was omitted from the starting line-up. Ralston, though, has endured more fraught moments in his career to have been overly concerned.

“These things happen in football but you can’t get too high on the highs or low on the lows,” he said.  

“We’re all together now as a team. It’s not about me or any other individuals. We got success from that day which is the main thing. We won as a team and that was the mentality I had that day at Hampden. 

“Listen, I’ll have lots of ups and downs in my career – it’s never going to be plain sailing. 

“But I’ve learned that you need to stay positive through it all. You have to keep working and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Despite the positive nature of the turnaround, there remains a drive from the 23-year-old to carve out a long-term career at Celtic.

The likelihood is that there will be continued competition for places as Postecoglou looks to add to his squad in this transfer window and then again this summer.  

“To come from where I was at the beginning of the season to where I am now, it’s been a massive turnaround,” said Ralston. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve managed to achieve. 

“But it’s only the beginning for me. It’s no secret that I want to play for Celtic. I want to have my career here. 

“I want to keep going in this direction but I’m delighted by how the season’s gone so far for myself – because I feel I’ve contributed to the team in such a positive way. 

“I hope I can continue to do that in the second half of the season. 

“Overall, there’s been a massive amount of progress made as a club since the gaffer came in. 

“Every player has progressed to this point. And as a team, we’ve been brilliant. It’s important now that we keep moving in the right direction.”

Celtic have banked the first silverware of the year but impetus for the title race lies with Rangers who are six points ahead.

The February meeting between the teams will be crucial in how the later half of the campaign plays out with Ralston keep to focus on Celtic establish a consistent run of form when the league resumes.  

“It’s just important that we focus on ourselves and what we do. There will always be other things going on, on the outside. 

“But we just have to stick together as a team and as a club. That’s all we can do.” 

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