I don't know if Celtic central defender Liam Scales is a fan of the cult 80s film 'Caddyshack'. If not, he most certainly should be. It boasts a stellar cast of comedy stars including Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray as it tells the story of a young golf caddie, vying for a scholarship. The film has developed a cult following and has been described by ESPN as "perhaps the funniest sports movie ever made".

The big defender might notice plot parallels with his own career path even though the focus is on golf. In the film Murray (a greenskeeper) utters these immortal lines near the end: "The crowd is just on its feet here. He's a Cinderella boy. Tears in his eyes, I guess, as he lines up this last shot. This crowd has gone deadly silent. A Cinderella story, out of nowhere, former greenskeeper, now about to become the Masters champion." Scales has lived the football equivalent.

It is a tale with humble beginnings which start in Wicklow with Leinster League side Arklow Town and sees Scales graduate right through to the Champions League with Celtic. It was a journey not without its interesting pitstops, namely a football scholarship with University College Dublin [UCD] before being snapped up by League of Ireland side Shamrock Rovers and even a loan spell with Aberdeen.

This incredible tale has a happy ending as Scales finally achieves his dream of being capped for the Republic of Ireland this weekend against Greece in a European Championship 2024 qualifier. And yet Scales started this season unsure if he would still be a Celtic player after falling down to seventh in the defensive pecking order behind Cameron Carter-Vickers, Gustaf Lagerbielke, Maik Nawrocki, Nat Phillips, Stephen Welsh, Yuki Kobayashi and Tomoki Iwata. That's when injuries to key defenders - as well as fate - decided to step in.

READ MORE: Rodgers on 'biggest surprise of my career' Celtic star

Last week after a 3-1 Scottish Premiership win over Kilmarnock, Brendan Rodgers labelled Scales "the biggest surprise in his career as a coach." So, how did Scales manage to take his career to such great heights? We went back to where it all began to chart the rise and rise of Scales through the eyes of his former coaches.

"Liam Scales is like Roy Keane. It doesn't matter what level they are stepping into, they both just went out and played."

Larry Mahony was Scales' coach at Arklow Town for five years from under-9s to under-14s. Mahony has coached at all levels in Irish football including a spell as Shamrock Rovers 1st team coach. He once released a book called: "Let the players play". He knew the youngster had a crack at a career in professional football although he felt it would be as a winger not a centre-back!

"I am absolutely delighted for Liam. It's incredible what's happening to him at Celtic. He's a great fella and he has always been very level-headed. He is a very intelligent young lad, and academically very bright. There are no airs or graces about him, and he comes from a very good family. 

"He is just one of those guys who does not get fazed very easily. I had him from under 9s to under 14s and he was a standout back then. I can actually remember his dad asking me if he had a chance of being a footballer and I told both of his parents that he had a crack at it. He learned how to practice and train properly, and how to work at his game from a very early age. Liam was busy all the time trying to improve himself.

"When I first had Liam he stood out because he was a dribbler. He was a winger for the team believe it or not! This was at a stage where I wanted wingers in my team. When he moved away from Arklow and he got picked to play for the Ireland schools' international team his father asked me to go down and watch him. I could not believe that Liam was playing at centre-back!

"I have to be honest I was disappointed to see him playing centre-back because it was far removed from the player I had. He was a brilliant winger; he was and still is a fantastic crosser of the ball. What actually made him stand out as a kid was that he was very good in the air, which was unusual. The dribbling, crossing and shooting would have made him stand out for any spectator.

"I remember that at his age group, he had an unerring ability to see the far side of the field so he would switch the ball from the left to the right-hand side and vice-versa. Liam could see the other side of the field and there is a lot of technique involved in switching the play like that. That's why he was better than players his age and those around him. What Liam has and a lot of players don't have is the ability to step up. He just has that knack of going out and playing.

"When I worked for the FAI, I was on the training course with Roy Keane and in terms of the way they play and their temperament they are 100 per cent different. However, the thing about Roy was it didn't matter what level he was stepping into, he just went out and played - and it is the exact same with Liam. You could throw him into any sort of game and he would just play. He has a really valuable temperament to cope with any situation which everybody saw for themselves against Rangers in the 1-0 win for Celtic at Ibrox.

"The media over here latched onto that and there has been a big campaign to get him first cap for the Republic of Ireland. Not many people talk about the meteoric rise of Liam. It doesn't get any major or big coverage, but it probably should. He got the scholarship to UCD because of his academic abilities which are absolutely fantastic but then ended up doing so well there that Shamrock Rovers snapped him up. 

"Liam will never get carried away. The fact that he was not involved in football at an early age has given him so much experience outside of the game and that has given him an extra layer of maturity that other players his age wouldn't have. I look at Liam now and I wish him every success and he deserves every accolade that comes his way as he has had a circuitous route into top-level football. But he has stuck at it and has worked so hard to get there. It is such a fantastic story and I am really delighted for him."

Celtic Way:

"Liam was born to play for Celtic. The way he handles pressure and the big occasions show you that he is a ready made Celtic player."

Stephen Bradley was Scales' manager at Shamrock Rovers for a season in 2020/21. He watched the man once dubbed the "hottest property in the League of Ireland" knock back a move to English football with Bristol Rovers to develop his career back home and the gamble paid off when Celtic came calling.

"Liam is doing very well. He has always had a great character and possessed a fantastic attitude. Even being out of favour at Celtic last season would not have fazed him. He is just so strong in his head as that has always been one of his biggest strengths. When Liam was thrust into the Celtic defence at Ibrox against Rangers in the derby at Ibrox, I knew everything would be fine. I had every confidence in Liam helping Celtic to get a result.

"When I had Liam at Shamrock Rovers you could tell very quickly that he was a level above. He was brilliant for us and scored a lot of goals from wide areas. He played in Europe for Shamrock Rovers and he scored in that arena so he was just chalking up all sorts of experiences before he signed for Celtic. He had the chance go to England as he had trials with Manchester City and Bristol Rovers when he was at UCD. Bristol Rovers wanted to sign him and so did Shamrock Rovers. We spoke to Liam and we advised him that he needed to take the next step in his career rather than just jump ship at the first club in England that offered him terms. It showed in his head where he was at as he signed for Shamrock Rovers and he was comfortable doing that. He knuckled down, learned his craft and played in European for Rovers.

"In 2021 he was described as "the hottest property in the League of Ireland", and he was clearly doing something right. We worked with Liam and developed him because sometimes when players go to English or Scottish clubs from Ireland they are swallowed up and lost in the system. A lot of kids in football reach for something that they should not be reaching for and when they get there they find that it is far too big for them. That was never the case with Liam. He understood that he had a lot of development to do and he got a taste of playing in Europe. He showed real maturity in making such a big career decision back then.

READ MORE: Brendan Rodgers picks out Celtic warrior Liam Scales after Rangers win

"I am just delighted that the Celtic manager, is teammates and the supporters are getting to see the real Liam. It is wonderful to see him plying his trade in the Champions League with Celtic and it does make you smile when you sit back and watch him at that level. I never had any doubt that he could perform in that company and on that stage. It is the reason why you are in the game, obviously, you want to be successful and win things, but as a manager it is your job to develop people and players. We all know what Celtic means to the Irish public and to see one of our own play for a club like that is brilliant.

"Brendan will develop Liam further as a player. He has a track record of improving young players and that's why Liam is made for Brendan and vice-versa. Brendan will only help him improve and take his game on. If you look around England and Scotland right now there are not many tall, left-footed centre-backs that can pass the ball like Liam. He can only get better.

" I am not surprised that he has turned his fortunes around at Celtic. Sometimes you need that sliding doors moment and Liam got his with Celtic being a few bodies down in terms of defenders when in all honesty he could have found himself leaving the exit door. Brendan has put him in and Liam has shown what he can do and that has been his platform to shine and he has shown people what he is all about. He deserves enormous credit for leaving Celtic to sign for Aberdeen on loan and actually playing games as he could have easily sat there. He has gone away and played and Celtic now have a much better player on their hands. It is an incredible turnaround but it shows you the kind of character he has.

"Liam was born to play for Celtic. The way he handles pressure and the big occasions show you that he is ready-made. The manager needs to be able to trust his players and Liam has earned that. I know there were a few clubs that were interested in buying Liam but he was adamant that he was going to stay and fight for his place at Celtic. Fair play to him for that. You couldn't meet a nicer person. He is so humble and down to earth and he just wants to play at the highest level possible. 

"Liam has never reached for the impossible. He has always stayed in the moment and enjoyed it. Whatever will be, will be. I text Liam quite regularly and tell him that Shamrock Rovers are trying to get him back on loan! He is one of the good ones and we remain in regular contact. Both of us know that the loan deal will never happen!"

"We tried to sign Liam (for St Mirren and Aberdeen) for a decent fee of around 300 or 400 grand or even half a million quid."

Celtic Way:

Jim Goodwin knew the Irish League scene inside out. He was the manager of St Mirren when he first clapped eyes on Scales five years ago while playing for UCD. He tried to finance a deal to take the player to Paisley but it failed to materialise. He then left the Saints to become manager of Aberdeen where he finally got his man secured on a season-long loan deal. Despite trying to conclude a permanent purchase he was rebuffed by Celtic who clearly saw the player's potential.

"I'm delighted to see the progress that he has made and he's getting his opportunity at Celtic. He's doing great. I noticed Liam playing for UCD five years ago and he got the move to Shamrock Rovers because he was the best centre-half in the league at the time. I tried to sign for him St Mirren when I was the manager as I kept tabs on him and I was interested in doing a deal. I thought we could get him over to Scotland for a relatively small transfer fee. Shamrock Rovers are the biggest club in Ireland and St Mirren couldn't afford it. Liam then ended up getting his move to Celtic.

"I tried to get him on loan for St Mirren as I knew he would not get into the first team straight away. That didn't happen and then I moved to Aberdeen. Liam was still on the list of left-sided centre-halves that I was interested in and I was delighted to bring him up north to play. He played a very important role for me in my short time as manager of Aberdeen. He kicked on at the tail-end of last season and helped them to their highest finish in a long time.

"He is a really good young lad who has his head screwed on and he is very humble, down to earth, willing to learn and is desperate to improve. He has gone from strength to strength and has waited a long time for his chance. I always felt that left centre-half is his position not left back.

READ MORE: Celtic hero in 'right now' warning as he ranks Scales above Phillips

"Liam had grabbed his opportunity with both hands having been thrust into the team. Aberdeen's transfer budget is bigger than St Mirren's and I felt that the figures that were being talked about at St Mirren were doable. I was constantly in dialogue with the board to get something done. We tried to sign Liam for a decent fee of around 300 or 400 grand or even half a million quid. I still think that it would have been a great investment for Aberdeen but Celtic were quite happy to see how he progressed at Pittodrie and I don't blame them. That was sensible on their part.

"Liam has no ego and he comes to work and trains really hard and he never has an off day. What he has missed out on is being part of an academy from a very early age. They get a really good education in terms of sports science but Liam has never had that in his career. He missed out on a really important part of his career development. I spoke to him recently and I told him to develop his pace, his sharpness and get that little bit quicker. He should try and bulk up and become a better athlete in the next 12 months.

"He has all the attributes as left-sided centre-halves are very hard to come by and he has good mobility but he can still improve his speed in the first five yards. I know that's what he'll do because if you give him a task he will work as hard as anybody on it to give himself the best opportunity to be the best that he can be.

"Brendan is clearly liking what he is seeing but Liam can't allow himself to stand still. He has to keep pushing. These are the players as a manager that you want to see do well. He has had a wonderful upbringing and he is from a great family and is appreciative of his lot. He loves playing football for a living but he has had to achieve it the hard way coming from back home with all the studying to be given the opportunity to turn out for your boyhood heroes. He is living the dream of playing for Celtic.

"I thought he was outstanding against Rangers in the derby win at Ibrox and has been very consistent. He is still only young as well and he will get better. Last season was the most competitive games he had played in a season since he left Ireland. He is still learning and he is now playing at the highest levels both in the Champions League and now international football.

"Every manager has a responsibility to the players that they coach. All the conversations that I have had with Liam are about the deficiencies in his game and he was always open to having those kinds of discussions and never shied away from them. I've played a small part in his football journey and it is up to the player to have the mindset, character and self-belief to grasp the nettle.

"I think Carter-Vickers will be brilliant for Liam's development as they are both naturally right and left-sided central defenders and that will give Celtic real balance at the back of the pack. I hope Liam and Carter-Vickers develop that partnership and have a successful season playing alongside each other. It is a testament to Liam that many people are now saying that the way forward for the Celtic central defence is Carter-Vickers and Liam. Brendan will also develop Liam's game no end. Liam is in a great place and his confidence must be sky-high. To have a manager like Brendan who has managed at the highest level putting his trust and faith in you must give you great self-belief.

"I am delighted for him that he finally made his Republic of Ireland debut this weekend. He finally has that international recognition and it is no more than he deserves. It is a remarkable journey Liam has been on coming from the League of Ireland all the way to Celtic and being loaned out to Aberdeen and now being a fully-fledged international footballer. It is a proud moment for Liam and all of his family. All of the effort and hard work has been worth it."

Liam Scales is a truly remarkable Cinderella story. Rather like Bill Murray's character in 'Caddyshack', you could say they both chose the right club!