UEFA.com's man in Scotland, Alex O'Henley, says Callum McGregor is ready to stake his claim for a regular first-team place at Celtic FC after scoring on his competitive debut for the Hoops in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first leg against KR Reykjavík.
Handed a surprise start in Reykjavik, the Scotland Under-21 midfielder impressed new Hoops manager Ronny Deila after a season on loan at English third-tier side Notts County FC. The Norwegian's faith was vindicated as McGregor scored the winner six minutes from time, putting Celtic in the driving seat to progress when KR arrive for the second leg at Edinburgh's Murrayfield on Tuesday.
Date of birth: 14/06/93
Position: Central midfield
Clubs: Celtic FC, Notts County FC (loan)
McGregor has been at Celtic since the age of nine and has represented Scotland at all levels from U15 through to the U21 side. He announced his promise when scoring twice in Celtic's 8-0 Scottish FA Youth Cup victory against Queen of the South FC in 2012. However, a first-team breakthrough proved elusive under former Hoops manager Neil Lennon and McGregor joined Notts County, initially on a six-month loan deal, at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.
Having scored on his debut, McGregor registered 14 goals for the Magpies, helping them to avoid relegation. He admitted it was a culture shock to leave the comforts of Celtic's Lennoxtown training centre to train on public parks at Notts County, but says the experience helped him develop as a player, and he now feels mentally ready to challenge for a regular place at Celtic.
McGregor struck his first goal for Celtic on his competitive debut for the Bhoys, cutting in from the right before firing in a low shot with the aid of a slight deflection in the 1-0 win against KR.
What he says
"I scored a lot of goals for Notts County, but scoring in the Champions League for Celtic was the biggest of my career. Being at Celtic means the world to me and if I can be here for a long time I will be delighted."
McGregor's energy, strong left foot, passing and scoring ability means he has all the attributes to become a key player for Celtic in his favoured playmaking role.
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