Gallant Gordon’s perseverance paying off after torturous injury battle
Arriving in the Premier League in 2007, Craig Gordon became the most expensive British goalkeeper upon agreeing a £9m move to the Stadium of Light but, despite such a fee and his highly-regarded talents, the Scot endured a disastrous spell on Wearside.
Sunderland never fully witnessed Gordon’s true potential during two troublesome seasons, when the former Hearts goalkeeper suffered several serious injury setbacks, halting his progress and holding him back from performing regularly in England’s top-flight division.
Although, the key moment in Gordon’s career, and therefore for Celtic, came just a matter of weeks before the Scottish shot stopper signed for the Bhoys, as one swift scribble of his signature could have seen his playing days ended and instead bow out with a seven-figure insurance pay-out sum.
Gordon, showing genuine grit and drive to remember any former personnel footballing aspirations, opted to continue his battle against such a torturous set of injury problems, and it was a decision that has been rewarded both individually and as part of a new team.
The 32-year-old was recently awarded Scotland’s Player of the Year gong by football writers, having helped guide the Hoops to another successful silverware-laden season and his country to an impressive run of international form (11/10 with Coral to qualify for Euro 2016), as Celtic rallied to a dominant Scottish Premiership title and also lifted the country’s League Cup crown.
Along with the domestic trophies, Gordon’s respected perseverance has seen him rediscover his exceptional form and rebuild his reputation as one of Scotland’s finest ever goalkeepers this term, after incredibly returning to action from a two-year spell out of the sport with a knee injury.
The gallant goalkeeper revealed just how close he came to ending his playing career, after a torrid time in England, which saw him released by the Black Cats in May 2012, after just 88 outings in five seasons on Wearside.
“There were quite a few people within the game who told me that it was perhaps time to give up,” stated Gordon.
“I had the possibility of getting an insurance pay-out had the worst come to the worst and I kept putting that off trying to get back. It was getting very close to the time limit expiring on that and I had to make a decision on whether to continue trying to play or take the money and run.
“To get the pay-out, I would have had to officially retire and not play any form of professional football. It would have gone to a settlement and it was pretty close to getting the go-ahead.”
In becoming the fifth Celtic player to have been crowned with Scotland’s coveted honour, and only the sixth in the 51-year history of this award to receive it twice; having also won during his time with Hearts in 2006, Gordon has sensationally overcame adversary in his debut season with Ronny Deila’s Glasgow giants.
Initially, the Scot was signed as deputy to Fraser Forster but, after the England international goal guard switched to Southampton for £10m, Gordon took his place between the Parkhead sticks and has never looked back.
“I had loads of doubts when I first signed,” continued Gordon, who was Celtic boss Deila’s maiden signing after taking charge in Glasgow.
“Anything could have happened from that point. I could be sitting here at the end of the season having not played a game and not achieved anything. And then I would have been kicking myself for not going and getting games under my belt.”
However, the Scotland international made a triumphant return for his new club, and will be vying for further success with his country, as he aims to guide Gordon Strachan’s side towards a place in next year’s Euro 2016 (14/1 to win Group D).
“I was ambitious enough, though, and wanted to go in as high as I could. I wanted to prove I could still play at this level and thankfully I’ve been able to do that.”