By Ryan Fitzsimons
Alistair Johnston became the second signing of Celtic’s early winter transfer business as he completed his move to the Scottish Champions from Major League Soccer (MLS) side, CF Montreal.
The Canadian international signs with great anticipation from the Celtic fans after an impressive World Cup campaign with the Canadian national side despite them losing each of their group stage matches.
Johnston has been capped 33 times for Canada and signs as the replacement full back for the likely departing, Josip Juranovic, who has been linked with an exit this January.
After starting all three games for Canada at the World Cup, Johnston now aims to use this experience at the highest level of club football as he looks forward to playing in the UEFA Champions League.
Johnston said: “It gave me that taste of what it means to play at that level when the world is watching. Once you get a bit of that it’s almost like a drug that you just can’t get enough of once you’ve started. After playing out there I just want more now.”
Johnston now joins the growing list of North Americans who have pursued a move to Europe and thinks that Celtic is the perfect place for him to develop his game.
Johnston said: “Celtic are just the perfect fit. You can just see the fanbase, the crowd and of course those European nights that are just top notch, so I’m looking forward to all of that and I think that [the World Cup] has prepared me mentally for it, it’s a pretty good steppingstone to being ready for this.”
Johnston made 35 appearances in the MLS during the 2022 campaign, contributing to eight goals over the course of the season. He was rated as the league’s most valuable defender and developed a reputation for being an effective attacking fullback.
Despite his attacking contributions, Johnston also has a physical side to his game, influenced by his time as a competitive ice hockey player.
Johnstone added: “I love a tackle; I love the physical play and I like the cold weather too. The physical play is the thing I miss most about Hockey, you could just hit a guy and it was perfectly legal. I’ve tried to bring that into how I play football too, I’m really physical.”
“Every game there’s going to be mind games between me and the winger, I like to get in their head.”
Celtic fans will have to wait till January 1st to watch their new right back in action, when the registration window opens for new signings. This means there is every possibility that Johnston could make his debut for Celtic in the Glasgow Derby fixture against Rangers on the 2nd of January.