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How pre-match nerves were a driving force behind Celtic’s ‘history makers’

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The full-back capped off an outstanding season on a personal level with another assured display in Saturday’s Hampden triumph, but he says that he was just as jittery before taking on Championship underdogs Inverness Caledonian Thistle as he had been before facing up to Real Madrid in the Champions League earlier in the campaign.

That is because the Celtic players are acutely aware of the responsibility they carry to deliver success whenever they represent the club, and it is only now that he will be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of those labours.

“History-makers,” Taylor said. “What a group of players. Staff, fans, everyone’s played their part, so it was a real historic season.

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“It is crazy. Some players go their whole careers without the chance to win one trophy, so for us to win three in one season is hard to describe in words.  

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“The boys, everyone, the squad of players, the manager and coaching staff – it’s not just about the players, it is not just about the coaching staff or just about the manager. Everyone has genuinely played a part in that changing room so I am sure everyone knows that and I hope everyone knows that and can appreciate it. 

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“It’s funny, me and Matty (O’Riley) were talking about [being nervous] on our walk [before the game]. There’s only been a couple of games in my career I have gone into and not been nervous and they are the ones you feel most worried about, when you don’t have that.

“[Saturday] was no different to last week – just every bit as nervous and recognising the pressure at this club, the pressure of the badge and trying to bring success to the supporters. 

“We have just done something unbelievable as a group and as a collective. So, we will enjoy that tonight. I will get away for two or three days and then head right back into the prep for the international games.”

As Taylor alludes to, his period of rest and reflection will be short and sweet, with his attention turning from his achievements with Celtic this term to a massive opportunity that lies ahead for Scotland later this month.

Taylor has been named in Steve Clarke’s squad for the huge European Championships qualification double-header against Norway and Georgia, but far from flagging, the boundlessly energetic full back is relishing the challenge ahead.

Though, he also has some pressing personal business to attend to in the first instance.

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“Well, I have four days when I can go and see my wedding venue for next year,” he said. “So, I will be doing that first.

“I can’t tell you [where], I don’t want any of you lot lurking about! No comment, I am telling you nothing.

“I will try and get a quick re-charge of the batteries and then right into the national team.  

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“It is just the life of a footballer. Certainly, boys who play international football. You know you are only ever one game away and the next one is the biggest.

“That’s been the attitude for us at the club as a group of players and that’s the mentality I am sure every one of the international players have, because as soon as you go away and represent your country there is no prouder honour than that. We will be ready. 

“The size of the games makes a difference, of course. They are not difficult games to motivate yourself for, you know what’s at stake at the end of that – the chance to go and represent your country at a major tournament, which we were lucky enough to do once and we want to do it again.”

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The Scots have certainly given themselves every chance of doing just that, and if they can back up their sensational 2-0 win over Spain with another win in Oslo, they will already have one foot in Germany.

“I missed the first two [games] with injury unfortunately so I am delighted to be back involved,” Taylor said.

“I went and watched the Spain game. The boys were unbelievable. What a performance.

“We gave ourselves a great start in the group and something to build on.” 

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