Charlie Mulgrew celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday by toasting the twists of fate which have favoured him, before sparing a thought for his mate Gregg Wylde.
The Celtic defender enjoyed regular kick-abouts with Wylde as the kids grew up side by side in Kirkintilloch and Mulgrew admitted his heart went out to his fellow player.
As Wylde was volunteering for redundancy at financially-stricken Rangers, Mulgrew offered up his sympathy for a boy who lived just down the road from him and insists the focus on his own good fortune has been brought firmly home.
He said: “Gregg is someone I know well and I’m friendly with his family so I feel for him today. He’s a great player and I’m sure he’ll get a club and a good club at that.
“He has played a lot of games for Rangers at such a young age. I feel sorry for him but I’m sure he’ll bounce back as he’s a good player. But I’d like to wish him all the best.
“We’re both from Kirkintilloch and I’ve played five-a-side football with his dad Gordon a couple of times. So I know his dad well and he tried to take me to St Mirren a few years ago.
“But Gregg’s a good player and I’m sure he’ll be all right.”
As the financial implosion across the city finally delivered a crushing blow to Rangers’ first-team squad, Mulgrew is ever more grateful for the stability currently in place at Celtic.
He said: “It’s great to be at a club like Celtic as the way everything is run here is great. It does make you thankful but I’m sure Rangers will be okay.
“It’s unfortunate what’s happening but I believe Rangers will be okay as a club.
“They’ll come out of this at the other end as they have strong characters and I’m sure they’ll be okay.”
Asked if the current climate of the football playing profession is becoming increasingly precarious, Scotland star Mulgrew revealed he is convinced rock bottom has already been reached.
He said: “Not really, maybe it’s uncertain at some clubs but it’s the minority. I don’t see it getting much worse than it is just now.
“I don’t know the ins and outs to comment about what’s happening at Rangers.”
It has been a meteoric rise towards becoming a first team regular at Celtic for Mulgrew since he returned to Hoops in the summer of 2010 and he’s adamant he has not surpassed his own expectations.
He said: “Maybe in some people’s eyes I have but I have always had belief in my ability.
“When I left Celtic the first time I never thought I would be back. I knew I had to make a career for myself and it so happens I’m now back at Celtic. I’m delighted to get that opportunity and I’m enjoying it.
“You don’t sign here thinking you’d be a squad player as that would be the wrong attitude. You always want to play so I tried to force my way in and I’ve managed to do that.
“Thankfully things are going okay at the moment. I have to thank the management and coaching staff here a lot for having belief in me. So far everything is going well.
“There are obviously times when you doubt yourself and that’s when the strength of character comes in.
“You need to keep working hard and have that bit of belief and thankfully I’ve done that.”
With a Scotland cap now under his belt, Mulgrew isn’t going to allow complacency to derail his status as a first pick under Neil Lennon.
He said: “I don’t think I’m a certain starter as we have such a large squad. You can’t take anything for granted as the minute you do that it can start to go wrong for you.
“I’m just delighted to be playing at the moment and, apart from Saturday, things have been going great so hopefully we can get back to winning ways this Sunday.”
After making his way back to Paradise via spells with Wolves and Aberdeen, Mulgrew admits there were dark moments along the way.
He said: “Leaving Celtic was hard. I was happy to go to Wolves but I suffered a couple of injuries. I was out for 10 weeks after injuring an ankle and then I was out for another 10 weeks with another injury and those were low moments.
“I had the right self-belief as well as the right family and friends around me to keep me going. It all seems like a long time ago.”
Celtic remain on course for a domestic Treble but Mulgrew insists it’s still not up for debate as they approach Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final at Dundee United.
He said: “It’s still not mentioned in our changing room as we just take each game as it comes.
“People say it is close but you can look at it in two ways as it is still far away.
“There are a lot of games to be played and we need to be focused and ready for them, and first up is Dundee United on Sunday.
“It will be tough. We need to be up for it and match their desire as they will want to lift the Scottish Cup just as much as we do.”
Crocked Swede Daniel Majstorovic paid a visit to Celtic’s Lennoxtown base yesterday and Mulgrew couldn’t find the words to comfort his team-mate who will miss Euro 2012 with a cruciate injury.
Mulgrew added: “He was in this morning and we have every sympathy for him.
“You don’t know what to say to him as you can only imagine how he’s feeling. He must be gutted.
“We wish him all the best and hope he recovers quickly. He’s missing a massive competition and I know he was looking forward to it as I heard him mentioning it a few times. I’m gutted for him.”