Chalmers: It’s al­ways spe­cial to face old club

Evening Times - - SPORT -

NO mat­ter where foot­ball takes him, Joe Chalmers will al­ways feel a spe­cial tug on the heart­strings fac­ing Celtic’s green-and-white hoops.

For­tu­nately for all of a Ross County per­sua­sion, the 25-year-old from Cam­bus­lang is also hell-bent on beat­ing them to­mor­row af­ter­noon.

Reared at the club from the age of 10 along­side the likes of Cal­lum MacGre­gor and Jack­son Irvine, Chalmers holds his three first-team ap­pear­ances dear.

They came in the shape of sub­sti­tute bows in two away wins at In­ver­ness and a mem­o­rable dis­ap­point­ment in a soli­tary Celtic Park start in a 1-1 draw with Ar­broath.

Celtic, though, not only honed Chalmers’ young tal­ent, but shaped his char­ac­ter and re­fined his out­look on life.

To­mor­row’s ar­rival of Neil Len­non’s Premier­ship and Euro­pean juggernaut would never be just an­other Old Firm test for Chalmers.

He said: “Is it spe­cial? I think it al­ways will be. I had some of the best times of my life com­ing through at Celtic, and I would never change that.

“Neil Len­non was the man­ager who gave me those cou­ple of chances, so I’m al­ways grate­ful for that. I played a cou­ple of games, which was ev­ery­thing I ever dreamed about when I was a wee boy.

“I’m for­ever grate­ful for get­ting that op­por­tu­nity.

“It was big for my fam­ily, who are big sup­port­ers, so it is al­ways a spe­cial game. I was there from the age of nine or 10, all the way through. I think I got the best up­bring­ing from foot­ball I could have wished for. I wouldn’t change that for any­thing.”

There has been no vic­to­ries for Chalmers, as yet, against his for­mer club, but he is cer­tain County are ca­pa­ble.

Chalmers said: “I have come up against them a few times at Mother­well, and at the start of this season as well, but it never changes.

“There have been a few times now I’ve faced them with­out any success, but hope­fully this time we can get a re­sult.

“They are ob­vi­ously on fire in Europe and do­mes­ti­cally.

“We have to raise our game out there, and just try to make it as dif­fi­cult as we can. If Celtic were to have an off-day, you just never know.”

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