With the news coming out today that Celtic star Leigh Griffiths would be taking some time away from football for personal reasons, I think it's time we show our appreciation and support to a man who has truly become one of our own.
Leigh Griffiths signed for Celtic from Wolves on the 31st of January 2014 for a fee around 1 million pounds, it had followed a few weeks of speculation that he was due to sign for the Bhoys. Before signing for Celtic the Leith man had turned out for Livingston, Dundee, his beloved Hibernian and of course Wolves. I remember personally being absolutely delighted with the signing, Griffiths had shown during his time at Hibs that he was a prolific goal scorer and someone with an eye for the spectacular, he had also done very well the first half of the season at Wolves in league 1. Celtic had sold the very popular Gary Hooper the previous summer and replaced him with Temmu Pukki, Pukki while being a technically gifted player lacked the predatory goal scoring instincts of Gary Hooper and simply did not score enough for Celtic, however Pukki does seem to have picked up his goal scoring this season. The January 2014 window came around and with Celtic relying purely on Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons for goals we needed a new goal scoring striker to play with Anthony Stokes and we found that man in Leigh Griffiths.
Griffiths after signing for Celtic
It didn't take long for Griffiths to open his goal scoring account for Celtic, a lovely turn and finish against Hearts in his third game opened his account for the Hoops, Griffiths went on and scored 7 goals in 14 games for Celtic during the second half of the 2013/14 season.
Griffiths celebrating scoring his first Celtic goal past Hearts
The 2014-15 season came around and Celtic had a new manager in charge, Ronny Deila, for Griffiths this meant change, the Scotsman started the season playing right wing in a 4-4-1-1 or sometimes 4-2-3-1, it became apparent very quickly this didn't suit Griff, Deila moved Griffiths onto the bench for the opening few months of the season favouring Swede John Guidetti to lead the line for Celtic, Deila also challenged Griffiths (and the rest of the squad) to change his overall life outside of football and embrace being a full time athlete, a challenge Griffiths accepted and by the end of December Griffiths was back to being no1 striker at Celtic, come February 2015 Griffiths opened the scoring against The Rangers in a 2-0 win in the League Cup. Griffiths continued being the number 1 striker for the rest of that season and finished the season with 20 goals in 41 games, a very good record considering he hadn't started the season up front or starting matches at all.
Griffiths celebrating scoring past Sevco in 2015
Griffiths had proved most doubters wrong that he had the technical physical and mental capabilities to play for a club like Celtic, and the 2015-16 was his best season yet at Celtic scoring 40 goals in 51 games, Griffiths almost single handedly won Celtic the title following what was at times a rough season which was also Ronny Deila's last in charge at Celtic, Deila who helped Griffiths become the player he is would be replaced by another big influence in Griffiths and Celtic's future Brendan Rodgers.
Griffiths, Deila and John Collins celebrated winning the double in 2016
2016/17 saw the arrival of Brendan Rodgers and two players who would help share the goal scoring burden with Griff, Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele. The season turned out to be one of Celtic's best ever with the side completing an unbeaten treble while also securing champions league football, Celtic and Griffiths were playing some amazing football and Griffiths's overall game took on a new level, Rodgers demanded more of his players than ever before and as per Griffiths took that challenge on and produced another top season netting 18 goals in 38 games, Griffiths who wasn't first choice for much of the season was still a regular in the side and contributed some massive goals including a double against Hapoel Beer Sheva which helped Celtic secure champions league football for the first time in 2 years.
Griffiths celebrates after scoring against Beer Sheva...
2017/18 saw Celtic complete yet another treble as they continued to dominate domestically, Griffiths struggled like many through with constant injuries but still managed to contribute with 13 goals in 39 games an impressive tally considering he spent much of the season coming off the bench and struggling to fight of niggling injuries.
Griffiths celebrates scoring past The Rangers once again...
This season has seen Griffiths struggle with injuries and off field problems, however it hasn't stopped the wee man's commitment to the club, the fact he has played this season despite struggling with these issues shows his commitment to a club that was never his own before he joined.
I remember Griffiths when he was younger and netting prolifically for Dundee, i always used to try and sign him on Football Manager and Fifa ect, i also remember being at the 2013 Scottish Cup final when we beat Hibs 3-0, and at the end of the game he came round and clapped our support which was classy of the lad considering he had just lost a final with the team he grew up supporting. Griffiths is a player that as said caused debate among our fans when he first signed, you need but go to the early pages of his thread on here to see the doubts which many people had over him, however, over the past 5 years i'm pretty sure there is absolutely no one here who now doubts what Leigh Griffiths offers Celtic, he is a player who has reinvented himself under two managers both on and off the pitch and has contributed masses of goals to our cause while truly embracing himself in our culture, Griffiths is someone who every single game he has pulled the shirt on runs around for the badge and try's his absolute hardest to help give us fans what we want, success. Griffiths has also become a hero to many off the pitch constantly answering peoples social media requests for a number of things, it was only last week how someone asked him to turn up to hand out awards at the end of the season for his child's side and despite all that Griffiths is going through personally he still offered to go and do it.
Leigh Griffiths has truly become one of our own, a man who loves Celtic as much as we love him and despite all thats going on at the moment for him he has given everything when called upon this season, Griff has battled a number of things during his footballing life and if he faces these personal issues with the same resolve and determination then we will see Leigh Griffiths once more back scoring goals for Celtic very soon i imagine, a man with sheer grit and determination to prove people wrong Griffiths will be looked back upon in years to come as a player who delivered when it mattered most for the club and we as fans will forever appreciate what he has given to this club.
All the best Griff