IT’S a funny old game, right enough. A little over a year ago, Callum McGregor stood disconsolate at the side of the Tannadice pitch after Celtic had played out a drab goalless draw with Dundee United that had put the tin lid on a miserable season. It was the result that confirmed they were no longer champions.

On Wednesday night, as he danced and cheered, saluted the hysterical masses of the Celtic support and embraced his teammates on the same pitch, the contrast could hardly have been starker.

Last March, McGregor faced the music after that game, and told the gathered press that Celtic would come back stronger, and prove that they were champions. Now, it’s official.

It has been an incredible turnaround for Celtic and for McGregor, one of the few survivors of the debacle that was their attempt to land a tenth title in a row, and undoubtedly one of the main driving forces behind their revival on the field that has now given them their tenth crown in 11 years.

What was driving him was a sense of purpose to make it up to the fans, the pain of what had gone before, and a determination to vindicate Muhammad Ali’s old adage that there is nothing wrong with getting knocked down, as long as you get right back up.

“When you take a slap in the face, and in football you always get disappointments, you have to bounce back,” McGregor said.

“That shows people what type of person you are, what type of character you have inside that makes you different and it’s trying to prove people wrong.

“When I stood down there and said what I said [last season], I meant it. And this group of players have helped the club and me achieve that and I owe them a lot, the way they have come in and delivered from all over the world and settled so quickly.

“To produce the performances along with the manager’s vision and mindset for the club has been spectacular.”

That vision of which McGregor speaks has been, he believes, the main factor in Celtic achieving a feat that few thought possible when Postecoglou was appointed last June. And he agrees with his manager that there is more to come from this group of players next term now there is a more settled look about the squad.

“He’s come in and has an authority about him the way he speaks,” he said.

“He’s got an identity and an understanding of the game and he’s brilliant with people.

“He’s got that something special where, when he speaks, people listen. That’s the thing he has got and then he believes in the players, he believes in his way of playing and thinking and that just transfers onto the team.

“So when you have got a guy like that at the side who believes in you wholeheartedly, then it’s easy for the boys to buy into it because they know that, if anything goes wrong, he will take the responsibility.

“That’s what he’s always saying to us. Don’t worry about mistakes. I’m asking you to play this way, so do everything you can and if it goes wrong, I’ll take the responsibility. That really does help the players and he’s been fantastic.

“The good thing about this is there is much more to come from this group of players as well.

“Any time the chips are down, we get around each other and fight for each other and that is how you win championships.

“There’s no magic dust. You have to dig in and work for each other and then all the attacking stuff, if you have good players, comes easy.

“But the magic dust is when you get together and really run for each other.”

This title win has been the culmination of McGregor’s journey at Celtic, from ballboy right through to league-winning captain. The fact he now has the armband, and given the tumult in the early part of Celtic’s season, this triumph is, he admits, his most special yet at the club.

“Just in terms of circumstances, yeah,” he said. “A group of new players coming in and testament to them, they have hit the ground running.

“Pretty much everybody to a man has made an impact and that’s what we need. It was a huge rebuilding job off the back of a disappointing season, but for me personally, I just wanted to put that behind me and prove to everyone it was a one-off and this group of players have helped me do that.

“I’m hugely proud [as captain]. It’s something I’ve dreamed of as a young kid. Just to get into the first team and get a game, then the journey has progressed every season.

“You always want to get better and develop as a player and as a person and, when I was handed the armband, I knew it was my responsibility to bring success back to this football club.

“I am so happy and delighted that we have managed to do that.”