Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas condemned Leigh Griffiths’ choice of goal celebration at the weekend and has told the 29-year-old to “sort himself out”.
The Hoops forward scored his first goal in five months against Partick Thistle on Saturday and put his fingers to his ears in response, having also tweeted a GIF of him doing the same on the day that Celtic signed Patryk Klimala last week.
Griffiths, who has only started one Premiership game all season after taking time out of football last year to battle depression, came under fire from Nicholas in his column in the print edition of the Daily Express [via Daily Record]. The ex-Celtic man wrote: “The celebration was wrong. It shouldn’t be about Griffiths – it should be about scoring a goal for Celtic.
“Mind you, I also got it wrong once. I did it, ironically, when I scored a goal against Partick Thistle, second time around. I kicked the boards because I was angry and I knew our club was in a mess. I got it wrong and Leigh also got it wrong in the same way on Saturday night.”
Nicholas added: “Why did he put his fingers in his ears? It is not about a war or creating a so-called agenda. It is about getting himself right as a person – and if he does that, he can become the player he once was. His celebration really worried me and saddened me. I just think he should sort himself out and enjoy his goal.”
Nicholas’ concern over Griffiths’ goal celebration on Saturday is understandable in the context of the Celtic striker posting a GIF of a similar nature just hours after fellow centre-forward Klimala had been signed, with the 29-year-old’s social media post being condemned by numerous Hoops fans.
Griffiths said afterwards that the gesture was in response to comments from some pundits who doubted his future at Celtic, with both Barry Ferguson and Alan Hutton suggesting that he may need to leave Parkhead to play more regularly, having started just six games in all competitions this season.
If Celtic manager Neil Lennon was angry about the striker’s celebration on Saturday, he has kept it in-house, having instead chosen to praise the Scotland international’s scoring exploits after the game (as per FourFourTwo). Lennon isn’t averse to criticising players in public when he feels it necessary, having scolded Olivier Ntcham last summer after the midfielder told L’Equipe that he was seeking a new challenge.
In Griffiths’ defence, he has had an exceptionally tough time off the pitch in recent months with his battle against depression, while his response to the goal against Partick Thistle could easily have been the release of pent-up frustration at a lack of starts and a long spell without scoring, as well as the doom-mongering verdicts from the likes of Ferguson and Hutton.
Nicholas’ criticism of Griffiths’ goal celebration appears to be borne out of prioritising the player’s best interests rather than taking a personal swipe at him, judging by his comments about being “saddened” and hoping that he can get himself “right as a person”. However, it would be hard to blame the Celtic striker for wanting to get some frustration off his chest given his on-field and off-field struggles, while notably his manager doesn’t seem to be perturbed by the 29-year-old’s reaction to scoring at the weekend – and that ought to matter more to Griffiths than the admonishment from Nicholas.
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