Celtic defender Anthony Ralston is thriving under new manager Ange Postecoglou but last summer feared his dream of playing for his boyhood club was ending.
The 23-year-old came through the youth set-up at Parkhead but after loan spells at Queens Park, Dundee United and St Johnstone, he struggled to make an impact in the first team.
Ralston made just one appearance last season, featuring in a 0-0 draw with Livingston when several first-team players were missing due to a Covid-19 issue.
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“It was natural for me to think it (my Celtic career) was coming to an end,” he told Sky Sports News.
“I’ve been here since the age of eight and coming through all the years at the academy, it comes with a lot of ups and downs.
“It was a hard 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 put my work in there. When you’re not playing it’s not easy at times but you need to keep yourself right.”
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Highlights as Ralston secured a late win for Celtic at Ross County
New manager Ange Postecoglou handed Ralston a new contact until 2025 in the summer as he looked to build a new team and transformed full-back into an attacking threat.
Ralson has gone on to score four goals and make five assists in the Scottish Premiership this season.
He said: “At the beginning it was new and I had to learn it (the new role). Every day in training it was something we worked on.
“When I found myself in midfield at the beginning it was strange, I’ve never had to check around about me as everything is usually in front of me.
“I’m enjoying it, I think it goes back to the clear messages the gaffer gave and the instructions of how he wanted it done. It instilled that confidence and belief that you can go and do it.”
After being given a chance under Postecoglou, Ralston’s impressive form not only saw him secure a new deal and extend his stay at Celtic, he also earned his first Scotland cap in November’s win over Denmark.
“When you see the other side of it and now you’re on this side you never want to go back,” he said.
“I’m delighted with how it’s gone so far but it’s important that I keep myself right, keep my head down and keep working.
“The gaffer since he’s come in has been great, not just with me but with all the boys.
“He had very clear instructions on how he wanted me to do it and that made it a lot easier for me in terms of learning that role. I’m loving playing the style of football he’s implemented into the team.”