No More (Cult) Heroes – Mikael Lustig

One of only three players to have played in the first eight of our recent nine championship wins departed at the end of the 2018-19 season and behind him he left some incredible memories, some incredible goals (especially for a full back) and the reputation of a winner who was a real dressing room influence.

He arrived in early 2012 just as we were pulling away at the top of the league and just as our neighbours were wheezing their last, but it must be said that early impressions were not great. He seemed slightly overwhelmed by the size of the club at the start and didn’t really look the part. Certainly at that stage he didn’t seem to a step up from Adam Matthews.

But the old cliche of a solid pre-season seemed to sort that because he started 2012-13 very well, chipping in with a few goals, showing lots of energy to get up and down the wing and not afriad to get stuck in when needed. He was one of the defensive heroes when we downed Barca that autumn.

From then on he was almost a constant presence, Matthews would come in now and again but Lustig seemed to be the one Lenny favoured and the Welshman soon departed. Quickly he got a reputation as a player who ‘got’ the club and someone who was always happy to engage with the fans.

In 2015 we were drawn in the league cup semi to play Sevco. We ran out comfortable 2-0 winners and after the game it was revealed that their game plan had been to try and isolate Lustig. Really? The first choice Swedish right back?

They tried the same thing in 2017. He had an assist in the opening goal. He also had an assist for the opener in the 2018 semi final against the same opponent. Some tactic.

In the Celtic Park 5-1 win of 2016 he was the one who provided the assist to Moussa for his third goal, a beautiful flighted pass that landed perfectly.

Oh and all of this is without mentioning his run from the halfway line and cool finish into the corner at Ibrox to drop the cherry on top of a lovely 5-1 win there.

Long story short – the guy was a skelper.

Of course by the time of 2017-18 there were cracks starting to show. Injuries were becoming more of a feature and he was picking up more cards. The red card he got at Pittodrie playing against GMS cruelly displayed how vulnerable to pace he had become. But when we won the league with a glorious 5-0 over Sevco there he was patrolling the right hand side and making friends with the local constabulary.

LIn his last season he was clearly running on fumes at times, but he can still claim the direct assist for the goal that won the treble treble.

To my mind he’s the best right back we have had since Danny McGrain and still hasn’t been an easy replacement either on the pitch or in the dressing room.

He leaves with an outrageous medal collection:

8 League winners medals

4 Scottish Cup medals

4 League Cup medals

He will be welcome at Celtic Park any time.

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