By Craig Turnbull
Leigh Griffiths delivered a chilling warning to Scottish Premiership defences and beyond, insisting he’s only going to get better after winning the PFA Scotland Player of the Year.
The Celtic striker, who admitted he was close to leaving the Hoops but a chat from boss Ronny Deila convinced him to stay, has been terrorising rearguards all year and has notched 39 goals this season.
But far from being content with what he has achieved so far, the 25-year-old is determined to be even better next season.
“I was within touching distance of going out on loan after the phone call from the gaffer, I just wanted to work hard,” he said.
“I didn’t want to leave the club but felt I needed to be playing games; I didn’t want to be sitting on the bench or in the stands.
“The only way I could do that was to go out on loan but the manager wanted me to fight for my place and I’ve managed to do that to stay in the team.
“There are still aspects of my game that I can improve; you can’t just rest on what you’re doing so far.
“Next season I’ll improve my game: I’ll be stronger, I’ll be more physical, try to hold defenders off and keep scoring goals.
“The fitness guys upstairs will give me a programme to work on.
“We’re not going to get a lot of time off especially with the Scotland games coming up as well.
“For the time that I will be off I’ll be in the gym a lot and will be going out running and stuff and will be coming back fit.”
Scotland boss Gordon Strachan has been particularly impressed with how Griffiths has made the right choices in his career to get to where he is now.
And before the upcoming friendlies against Italy and France and the World Cup qualifiers later in the year, Griffiths is hopeful that Strachan places his trust in him to lead the line.
“I’m just happy to be in the squads now and if I can get a start then I’m buzzing if not I’ll sit on the bench and wait my turn,” he said.
“My goals give me hope but I’ve said it before, we’ve got a lot of good strikers that are all vying for that one place.
“It’s a very acute formation that we play with one striker, you’ve got to be playing well and you’ve got to be in favour, so hopefully come June and the World Cup qualifiers I can be that man.
“I’m not the tallest. I’ve got a good spring on me but I’m not like Fletcher or Chris Martin who have a bit of height about them.
“I’m a small guy who will put himself about so I need to be stronger and hold players off.”