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Kris Commons: this has been my best season, but missing cup medals was a negative

TURNING 30 can often spark a period of contemplation about an individual's future but Kris Commons is in no desperate rush to lay out his long-term vision.

Kris Commons has scored 23 league goals so far this season playing closer to the striker, but is disappointed the club did not achieve success in the cup competitions. Picture: SNS
Kris Commons has scored 23 league goals so far this season playing closer to the striker, but is disappointed the club did not achieve success in the cup competitions. Picture: SNS

Among the most cerebral and thoughtful of players, the Celtic forward will likely not be short of offers when the time finally comes for him to hang up his boots and consider a new path but it is not something on his radar just yet.

Given the season he is enjoying - one that makes him the red-hot favourite to sweep up in the end-of-season awards - he can perhaps be excused for enjoying the moment rather than worrying too much about what might lie ahead.

These are heady days for a player signed by Celtic to no huge fanfare for £300,000 back in January 2011. He has proved his worth in three of his subsequent four seasons, although it is in the current campaign that he has really come into his own.

While others looked to strikers, new and old, to fill the void left by Gary Hooper's transfer to Norwich, it was Commons who stepped forward to supply goals in huge abundance. In modern-day football hipster-speak, he has moved from being a wide midfielder or No.10 figure to become a No.9-and-a-half, scoring as many goals as a centre forward without actually playing in that position. He concedes, after some thought, that this has probably been the most productive spell of his 13-year career.

"From a personal point of view I've never played in such an advanced position before," he said. "For the best part of this season we've played with just the one striker and I've been given the licence to get in the box, which I hadn't been used to. I've scored a lot more goals from the 12-yard range than I've been used to.

"It's all been down to circumstances - I think if Gary Hooper had stayed then I'd probably have been on the wing. That's more of a natural role for me but, since Leigh Griffiths came into the side, we've tried to play with three really attacking players and score as many goals as we can. I suppose this has been my best-ever season, certainly in a goals-to-game ratio."

Personal success has been offset by a feeling of collective underachievement. At Celtic there is an expectation that any season should end with at least one domestic cup in the cabinet and so the early exits to Morton, in the League Cup, and Aberdeen, in the William Hill Scottish Cup, are black marks on an otherwise decent campaign. Passing up the chance to win a treble still gnaws away at Commons. "I'd have loved to have been involved in both cups," he added. "With the finals being played at Celtic Park, it would have been great to have been involved in that and finish the season on a high.

"So I'll probably come away from this campaign with mixed emotions. When you play for a club like Celtic - and especially when you have such a good team as this one - you want to win the treble.

"That puts you among the elite. It's only been done by two teams in the club's long history. Our main aims last summer were to win the title and qualify for the Champions League. We did both and that's great but you also want cup victories.

"You want more medals in the cabinet and that's probably the only negative for us this season."

Talk of trophies and European football is a far cry from his teenage years when carving out a career in the game was about the extent of his ambitions. "Starting out at 18 with Stoke, I never dreamed of playing in the Champions League or playing for big clubs so, for me, everything is a bonus," he revealed. "Winning cups, winning titles, playing in Europe - it's all a bonus for me.

"The better a player you become the more ambitious you become. First of all, you're just trying to make a living but - if you're exceptionally talented - you can start to think about the Champions League and World Cups."

And what of the future? Coaching has been spoken about as a possible avenue but it is not something he has considered just yet. "If someone asked me tomorrow then I'd say no.

"I'm only 30 and I want to keep playing for a while yet. But once you get to a certain age then that's the obvious way to stay in the game."

Unsurprisingly for a player not struggling for confidence, the prospect of moving to the dark side and taking on media commitments has also been mentioned.

"My mind changes from day to day but doing bits and bobs for television appeals," he said. "I can't see myself as an interviewer, for example, asking all the questions.

"It's a little more advanced in England, where ex-players are paid a lot of money to work their gadgets and give their expert opinions but, in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, you're talking about two world-class defenders. They've won everything between them so I don't think they [Sky Sports] will be looking for me at the moment."

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