Celtic star Gary Mackay-Steven has come a long way from pulling pints in Thurso, but he remains grounded and partial to football in the park.
The 24-year-old spent two seasons in Liverpool’s youth system before being released after injuries meant that he couldn’t display his full potential.
He returned to Thurso and was pulling pints in The Newmarket Bar five years ago, but after signing for Airdrie United and moving on to Dundee United, the humble Scotland international is fast becoming a star at Celtic Park.
His love for the game he now calls his profession was shown as he tried to get back into football, but even now, as he rises to the top of the game, he still goes to the local park to do some keepy-uppys - although he has to wear a disguise.
He said: “I was in Kelvingrove Park a couple of weeks ago playing keepy-uppy on my own.
“I just put a hat on so no one recognised me. Or at least I don’t think anyone saw me, I was too busy enjoying myself.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. It benefits my job to be working on my touch and skills but that’s not the reason why I do it.
“I do it because I enjoy it and every footballer would probably say the same – that it’s more fun with a ball at your feet than just walking around.”
No-one has attempted to join in with the Celtic star but he is still tempted to get involved when he sees kids playing in the park, and insists that side of him will never change.
After a difficult start to his career Mackay-Steven is now flourishing, and learning his trade at Liverpool has helped him to settle quickly at Celtic because he knows what it’s like being around a big club - although now he’s coming to prominence at one.