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Jim Stewart: Craig Gordon's Celtic form has been fantastic

The former Hearts and Sunderland goalkeeper has had a phenomenal season at the Bhoys, winning the Football Writers Player of the Year award.

Craig Gordon has been earning plenty of praise after his dramatic return to football with Celtic this season, with his former Hearts coach and current Scotland goalkeeping trainer Jim Stewart particularly complimentary in an interview with the Edinburgh News.

Gordon's career looked over after he retired from the game a couple of years following a series of knee injuries that ruined his Sunderland career.

But after two years out of the sport, Gordon reentered football when he signed a contract at Scottish champs Celtic last summer to rival Fraser Forster.

It proved a superb decision, as Southampton signed the England international just as Gordon returned to the form and fitness necessary to claim a regular starting role for the Bhoys.

But Stewart, who worked with the 'keeper at Hearts as a youngster, has said he isn't surprised that the 32-year-old has managed to return to the top level of football after his injury nightmare.

“The biggest thing with Craig is his mental strength," Stewart told the Edinburgh news. "When I first worked with Hearts he was there as a 15-year-old. At that time, there was a debate about whether he should or should not get a contract. There was a bit of debate over his height as well because he was small.

"He showed his mental strength back then. He always had this desire to be a top-class player, a top-class goalkeeper. That hasn’t deserted him at any stage.

“When he was doing his rehab at Rangers that desire to get back to the top flight was with him,” added the Scotland coach. “I’ve not been surprised at all because I know the desire that he has and I know the standards that he sets himself."

Stewart praised Gordon after he featured 52 times for Celtic, the most games he's played in a season for a decade, with the former Black Cats man now set to rival Allan McGregor and ex-Bhoy David Marshall for the Scotland jersey in the upcoming matches.

“He has done fantastically well to get back to where he’s at," Stewart said. "Nobody knew where he was going to go or what level he was going to play at or how many games you are going to play. For him to go through the season and play 50 odd games is fantastic."

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