Anthony Ralston spoke of his rejuvenation under new Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou after fearing a Parkhead departure.
The 23-year-old right-back came through the club’s academy and had a loan spell at Queens Park before making his Hoops debut in May 2016 against St Johnstone.
However, after further loan spells at Dundee United and St Johnstone, and after making just one appearance last season against Livingston when Celtic were depleted due to Covid-19 issues, it looked like his time as a Hoops player could be up.
But a new lease of life under Postecoglou, who took over in the summer, has brought a new contract until 2025 as well as four goals in the cinch Premiership so far this season with Ralston also going on to make his Scotland debut in November to complete a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.
Ralston also picked up a Premier Sports Cup winners’ medal after Celtic beat Hibernian in the Hampden final earlier in the month.
Ralston told Sky Sports News: “It was natural for me to think it (Celtic career) was coming to an end.
“I’ve been here since the age of eight and coming through all the years at the academy, it comes with a lot of ups and downs.
“It was a hard season last season, when you’re not playing and you’re not involved.
“I spent a lot of time on the training pitch and put my work in there. When you’re not playing it’s not easy at times but you need to keep yourself right.
“I felt my time maybe had come to an end but when I got my opportunity, I wasn’t going to let it go and I just want to keep myself there.
“When you see the other side of it and now you’re on this side you never want to go back.
“I’m delighted with how it’s gone so far but it’s important that I keep myself right, keep my head down and keep working.”
Postecoglou changed the way Celtic play with Ralston’s role as an inverted full-back a key part the Hoops’ high-tempo style of football.
The defender’s form earned him his first Scotland cap last month when he came on as a late substitute in the 2022 World Cup qualifying win against Denmark at Hampden Park.
He said: “Since he’s come in the gaffer has been great, not just with me but with all the boys.
“On a personal note, it is obviously a new way of playing and I am loving it.
“At the beginning it was new and I had to learn it (the new role). Every day in training it was something we worked on.
“When I found myself in midfield at the beginning… I’ve never had to check around about me as everything is usually in front of me.
“I’m enjoying it but it goes back to the clear messages the gaffer gave and the instructions of how he wanted it done.
“It instilled that confidence and belief that you can go and do it.”