Celtic defender Anthony Ralston is thriving under new manager Ange Postecoglou, but last summer he feared his dream of playing for his childhood club was dying out.
The 23-year-old made it through Parkhead’s youth academies, but after loan spells at Queens Park, Dundee United and St Johnstone, he struggled to make an impact in the first team.
Ralston only made one appearance last season, drawing 0-0 with Livingston when several players from the first team were missing due to a Covid-19 problem.
“It was natural for me to think that (my Celtic career) was coming to an end,” he said Sky Sports News.
“I have been here since the age of eight and have spent all the years in the Academy, with many ups and downs.
“It was a tough season last season, especially when you’re not playing and you’re not involved.
“I spent a lot of time on the training pitch and I put my work into it. When you’re not playing sometimes it’s not easy, but you have to hold on to it.”
New manager Ange Postecoglou handed Ralston a new contact until 2025 in the summer as he tried to build a new squad and turned the full-back into an offensive threat.
Ralson went on to score four goals and make five assists in the Scottish Premiership this season.
He said: “It was new in the beginning and I had to learn it (the new role). Every day in training was something we worked on.
“When I found myself in midfield at the beginning it was strange, I never had to check around because everything is usually in front of me.
“I’m having fun, I think it goes back to the clear messages the gaffer gave and the instructions on how he wanted it done. He instilled that confidence and belief that you can go and do it.”
After receiving a chance under Postecoglou, Ralston’s impressive form not only saw him secure a new contract and extend his tenure at Celtic, but he also earned his first Scottish appearance in November’s win over Denmark.
“When you see the other side and now you’re on this side you don’t want to go back,” he said.
“I’m happy with how far it went, but it’s important that I hold myself well, keep my head down and keep working.
“The coach since he joined has been fantastic, not only with me but with all the guys.
“He had very clear instructions on how he wanted me to do it and that made it much easier for me to learn that role. I love playing the style of football he has implemented in the team.”