"Callum, Callum McGregor. There's no one better..."

The Celtic fans should have ended that popular ditty about their captain right there. McGregor was supposedly filling impossible boots when he handed the Celtic captain's armband in the summer of 2021 after Scott Brown’s departure to become the 22nd skipper in the club's illustrious history. Captain. Leader. Legend. No pressure, Callum. Replace that if you can.

McGregor has done that and then some.

The midfield metronome has been the consummate professional as Celtic have dominated the Scottish football landscape over the last decade. The player has set a ridiculously high bar when it comes to consistency. The 30-year-old burst onto the scene at Celtic Park in the summer of 2014 and has been an almost ever-present in the first-team squad playing under a plethora of managers namely Ronny Deila, Brendan Rodgers (twice), Neil Lennon and Ange Postecoglou.

McGregor is one of the most decorated Celtic players ever and has won 20 major trophies with the club since 2015 - eight Scottish Premiership titles, five Scottish Cup titles and seven League Cup titles. The midfielder has also won the PFA Scotland Players’ Player of the Year award and has been included in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year on three occasions. To date, McGregor has made 455 appearances, scored 64 goals for Celtic and weighed in with 76 assists.

McGregor puts the 'Tic in Celtic. It's as simple as that.

READ MORE: Callum McGregor is Celtic's living metronome - Ryan McGinlay

He has been an influential presence once again for Celtic this campaign, registering two goals and five assists in 36 appearances across all competitions He has also been capped 58 times for his country and scored three goals. Yet the vital cog in Celtic's green and white machine has been out since February with a troublesome Achilles problem. It is widely anticipated that McGregor will make his return to club action for Celtic this Sunday against Livingston at the Tony Macaroni arena.

In the international break, he was badly missed for his country as Steve Clarke's Scotland succumbed 4-0 to Holland and 1-0 to Northern Ireland in the double-header of friendly matches. If you were in doubt about what McGregor brings to the party for both club and country in terms of skill set and technical ability, then watch both matches. In the 47 times McGregor has been capped by Clarke he has played the full 90 minutes on 17 occasions. In eight of those 17 appearances, he has been on the park for more than 75 minutes.

Clarke rates him. Why? He is quality. He is the best midfielder in the country bar none. Whenever the call came to perform national service in the dark blue of Scotland, McGregor always put his head above the parapet. More often than not he has stepped up to the plate at the international level. It is a small wonder that his national team manager thinks the world of him As Clarke said: "He (Callum) is a credit to himself and his club. He is a credit to his country. Every time you pick him he is there.

“He plays almost every minute of every game for Celtic, he plays almost every minute of every game for us. He is just very, very consistent. His quality is good. He is low maintenance and high quality. He is a manager’s dream.”

Low maintenance and high quality. Tell us something that the Celtic supporters don't already know. It beggars the question as to why former Hibernian striker Tam McManus opined after the Dutch game that McGregor might have a hard task getting back into the Scotland starting eleven.

Incredulously McManus said: "I thought Scotland for 60-70 minutes was superb. He made a lot of changes. I thought our midfield was superb against a good Netherlands team. I thought that three in there with McTominay, John McGinn and particularly Billy Gilmour, who I thought was superb.

“It’s going to be a job for Callum McGregor possibly to get back into that midfield because I thought the three of them dominated a good Netherlands team.”


Correct me if I am wrong, but McGregor was the missing key ingredient in both the 4-0 and 1-0 losses to Holland and Northern Ireland respectively. Clarke is well aware that McGregor will walk back into the side for the commencement of Euro 2024 this summer in Germany. The Celtic skipper will be desperate to finish the campaign on a high as he leads the charge for the two remaining trophies available.

McGregor is the ideal man to have at the helm. He has been over the course and distance many times. It is his forte. McGregor comes alive in these situations. They float his boat and flick his switch. The latest instalment of a title race is right up McGregor's street. He has previous. None more so than at Ibrox in 2022 when he took the Glasgow derby by the scruff of the neck when Celtic came back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 and move six points clear with six games to play the last time there was the semblance of a race for the flag.

It was a microcosmic moment in McGregor's career. Postecoglou's Celtic were one down after just three minutes. By the seventh minute, they were on level terms thanks to McGregor. A penetrating lung-busting run deep into the heart of Rangers territory saw Celtic fashion a chance from which Tom Rogic duly equalised to make it 1-1. McGregor went on to give a midfield masterclass and his side won the game. It's what he does - repeatedly.

In that instant though, McGregor announced himself as Celtic captain material. He simply refused to accept defeat. The Celtic supporters loved it. Football connoisseurs loved it. Students of the beautiful game loved it. If you truly understood football you would have loved it. What's not to love watching a player give everything for his team in enemy territory and refusing to yield? Not for the first time in his career. Ironically, two of McGregor's best games for his club this season have come in the two defeats Brendan Rodgers's side have dished out to Rangers already this season.

He was imperious in the 1-0 victory at Ibrox back in September when Kyogo Furuhashi's goal was the difference between the sides. McGregor was at it again when he produced another top-drawer display when Celtic won 2-1 in the Festive fixture at Celtic Park on December 30.

Celtic Way:

READ MORE: Celtic boss Rodgers hails 'different level' McGregor after Rangers win

That prompted his manager to say: "Callum is on a different level. I worked with him here the first time and we are very lucky to have someone like him on a different level.

"His view of the game and his composure... he has ended up having to play nearly enough two positions at times. He was in that controlling position as he can progress the game forward and then he is up there as an eight due to the runs he can make in that position.

"He is an absolutely brilliant leader for this group and I am very lucky to have him here again as a manager."

McGregor is a captain, a leader, and a legend in the making. Remind you of somebody? That's why it will be the most welcome of sights to see McGregor return to the Celtic fold this Sunday in West Lothian as well as the international fold. Rodgers and Clarke certainly cannot wait for McGregor to be back out there on the grass strutting his stuff and doing his thing in the engine room.

McGregor is the definition of an unsung hero for both club and country. You only tend to miss them whenever they are not there. Celtic teammate Matt O'Riley arguably summed up McGregor best when he said this about him back in December 2022. O'Riley said: "First and foremost, he's a very good player. He's underappreciated; If you really understand football, you understand how good he is. What he brings on the pitch, his calmness on the ball and vocally, he's very good at organising everybody.

"Callum is a top four or six English Premier League player. In another world, he probably would be playing in the English Premiership. You know how much he loves this club. I don't think he'd ever leave it."

"Callum, Callum McGregor. There's no one better..."

If you don't believe me just ask anyone like O'Riley who has had the honour and privilege of playing alongside McGregor at either club or international level down throughout the years. Or better still just ask Rodgers and Clarke.

There is a valid reason why the Celtic support sing this song in homage to McGregor. There is no one better for club and country. It's not just a chant. It's a declaration of fact.