Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has showcased his knack for finding potential hidden gems in his tenure at Parkhead thus far, with arguably the 57-year-old’s biggest success story having been that of Portuguese starlet, Jota.
The 23-year-old was something of an unknown following his arrival in Glasgow on a season-long loan deal last summer, although quickly emerged as a leading figure in the club’s title charge, scoring 13 goals and providing 14 assists in all competitions in what was a stunning debut campaign.
That explosive form has continued this time around with the fleet-footed gem having scored seven goals and provided six assists in just 15 games across all fronts, notably netting a delightful free-kick away to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in midweek, in what was a rare bright note on an otherwise grim night.
The £6.5m-rated gem – who signed on a permanent deal in the recent window – has unsurprisingly stolen the headlines on numerous occasions throughout his time with the Old Firm outfit to date, having become something of a talismanic figure for Postecoglou in recent times.
There have, however, been perhaps less obvious stars in the Hoops’ ranks during the former Yokohama boss’ time in charge, with academy graduate Anthony Ralston once such talent who has emerged seemingly out of nowhere over the past year or so.
The £8.5k-per-week full-back had previously appeared surplus to requirements during Neil Lennon’s time at the helm, notably making just a solitary appearance for the club in all competitions during the 2020/21 season, having endured prior spells out on loan at Queen’s Park, Dundee United and St Johnstone.
With the Scotsman’s future at the club looking uncertain amid Postecoglou’s arrival last year, the 23-year-old has since gone on to shine since then, having undoubtedly been something of an “unsung hero” of late, in the words of journalist Anthony Haggerty.
The six-cap “ballet dancer” – as dubbed by Dominik Diamond – scored four goals and provided nine assists in the Scottish Premiership alone during the 2021/22 campaign, with his average match rating of 7.41, as per SofaScore, having been the fourth-highest among the Celtic squad last term.
The 6-foot machine has had to bide his time for game time this time around – having notably failed to feature in any of his side’s six Champions League outings – although has begun to solidify his place at right-back domestically, notably playing a key role in the win over Dundee United at the weekend.
That dramatic 4-2 triumph saw Ralston register his first league goal involvement of the season – having earlier provided two assists in the League Cup – as the attacking defender teed up Kyogo Furuhashi with a headed flick-on to help steer the home side ahead late on.
It was the Bellshill-born starlet’s all-round performance that particularly caught the eye on the day, however, having been hugely influential to proceedings after making 116 touches in total, while also recording a remarkable haul of five key passes.
Such a strong showing should well see the improving ace retain his place in the side for Wednesday’s trip to Fir Park to face Motherwell, with Ralston hoping to showcase once again just what an asset he is to both his manager and his teammates.