By: Mark Henderson on 14 Mar, 2017 16:35
STUART Armstrong has paid tribute to Brendan Rodgers for helping him reignite his Celtic career and move closer to achieving his international dream. The Hoops midfielder was named in Gordon Strachan’s squad on Monday for the friendly with Canada and the crunch World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Hampden.
It's not the first time he has been called-up for national service as a Bhoy, though an untimely injury forced him to withdraw around 18 months ago. As a young player at Dundee United, he was also received a call-up early in May 2013 but never made it on to the pitch.
But next week the 24-year-old could finally fulfil a lifelong ambition and star for the senior Scotland side, having played for the U19s and U21s.
It would be a well-deserved reward for Armstrong, who has flourished under Brendan Rodgers, becoming one of the mainstays of a side sweeping all before them in Scottish football, and he has now scored 11 goals this season following his fabulous strike in last weekend’s Glasgow derby.
Speaking exclusively to the official club website, Armstrong was keen to thank the Celtic manager for his leading role in transforming his Paradise career.
“Since he came in, we had the initial conversation at the start of the season and how he wanted me to go about my business at Celtic,” said Armstrong.
“That really spurred me on and gave me a great platform and opportunity to work my way into the side and play in my favoured position. I owe him a lot for reigniting my career at Celtic.
“I had been named in the Scotland squad a couple of times, first at Dundee United and then at the start of my first full season at Celtic, but I got an injury so that was a bit of a disappointing time. It was very tough to take as I have never been capped before and it was a great honour to be called up, so to decline with an injury was very disappointing.
“It was a bit up and down after that but since the gaffer has come in he has revitalised my career. He moved me into the middle and I have built on that in training, working very hard in training and contributing in games with goals and assists. It’s been a good season of progress so it’s been very nice to be rewarded with a Scotland call-up.”
Armstrong discovered the news of his elevation when messages of congratulations started flooding in from family, friends and his team-mates. It was a proud moment for him. And he can’t wait to join up with the squad next week, where he will team-up with five of his Celtic colleagues, including club captain Scott Brown.
“I’m very happy,” he said. It’s a proud moment for me and my family. My brother and my dad and my step-mum all got in touch which was good, saying they were delighted for me and proud.
“The Celtic boys in the squad sent messages of congratulations and a few other boys, including Andy Robertson, who I played with at Dundee United, texted me as well. It will be great to catch up with him as I haven’t seen him for some time, along with some other old faces in squad. I'm really pleased about it and very excited about meeting up with the rest of the squad.”