Celtic have always boasted a highly international line-up during the modern football era, with the squad usually being made up of players from as many as 15 different countries. Always with a strong Scottish, Irish and English representation, the club has developed the reputation for nurturing young talents from the African and Asian continents, as well as from the four corners of Europe.
As a result, there tends to be a strong Celtic representation at most European Championships and World Cups, and Russia 2018 is set to be no different.
With Sweden, Australia and Costa Rica all competing at this summer’s World Cup finals, there will be at least three Celtic players with a near certain chance of making it onto the pitch when July arrives, and the rest of the fan base will be watching intently.
The following trio of Hoops stars are those who will be hoping to impact the world’s largest footballing stage, after very mixed seasons on the domestic scene with their club.
Mikael Lustig has had arguably his worst season to date in a Celtic shirt, having continually delivered sub-par performances compared to his usual consistent self. The Swedish veteran has come under a fair amount of criticism over the course of the year, with many calling for a new right-back to be brought in to the club with the eye to replace him. As a result, Lustig will definitely feel he has a point to prove in Russia this summer.
With 64 caps to his name, the 31-year-old is among the most experienced in the Sweden squad and, as Celtic’s vice-captain, his leadership qualities are well known. It will be a tough ask for Lustig and his defensive partners to keep the likes of Germany and Mexico at bay but, having faced the world’s best on plenty of occasions with Celtic, the full-back will be fully prepared for all that comes his way.
Along with Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic is the player Australia will be looking towards to help lead their country’s charge towards qualification out of the group and into the knockout stages. Rogic has endured some injury problems this season. However, in the latter half of the campaign, he has looked back to his best with some stunning displays against Rangers in the big derby games.
Usually an attacking midfielder, the 25-year-old has been deployed up front on occasion for his country due to his versatility and is fairly experienced with 35 caps to his name. With the hopes of a nation lying on is shoulders, Rogic will be used to the type of pressure having played for the Hoops for the past six years, with every performance expected to end in a win.
Facing up against Denmark, France and Peru in group C, if things go their way, there is actually a chance that Australia could make it through.
Cristian Gamboa has barely kicked a ball for Celtic this season and, as a result, he will be looking to make the biggest impact out of the trio in Russia this summer, most likely showcasing his talents and playing for a move away from Glasgow. Unfortunately for the former West Brom star, Gamboa has slipped down the pecking order at Celtic Park, finding himself behind Lustig and academy graduate Anthony Ralston.
On occasions where both have been unavailable, we have seen the manager switch to a back three to allow James Forrest to play as a wing-back, which shows you just where Gamboa is in Celtic’s plans.
Nevertheless, Gamboa is still a near certain starter for Costa Rica, who really left their mark on the World Cup finals last time around. With 62 caps, and the experience of a World Cup quarter final penalty shoot out under his belt, Gamboa will be raring to go in June, facing up against some people’s tournament favourites Brazil along with Switzerland and Serbia in group E.