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McGeady prepares to pen another chapter of his memoirs

THERE is always a story in Aiden McGeady.

McGeady bears no resentment over his fall-out with Gordon Strachan. Picture: Getty
McGeady bears no resentment over his fall-out with Gordon Strachan. Picture: Getty

He has earned his millions by dodging full-backs but he meets controversy full-on.

The former Spartak Moscow and now Everton player's return to Glasgow yesterday had the purpose of publicising the PFA Scotland Player of the Year Awards but the backstory to the 27-year-old's career and the story lines to come ensured the Republic of Ireland internationalist faced questions that ranged far from who is the best player in Scotland.

Kris Commons, almost incidentally, would be McGeady's choice for the main award but the more interesting story lies in his relationship with Gordon Strachan, his very public altercation with Neil Lennon and his return to Scotland, almost certainly to Celtic Park, as a member of the Republic of Ireland team for the Euro 2016 qualifier in November.

The former Celtic player also has a tale to tell of his abrupt exit from Spartak Moscow where he was "transferred" to the youth team when it became obvious his future lay elsewhere, most specifically at Everton.

But it is Scotland and Strachan that provide the spice for a discussion with McGeady. Famously, the winger is a player who chose to play for Ireland and, perhaps even more famously, had a fall-out with Strachan when both were at Celtic.

He is relaxed about any criticism he may receive for his choice of country and has no regrets about how and when it was made. "You learn to deal with it. I am old enough now to deal with it. When I was younger, it got on my nerves."

He bears no resentment over his fall-out with the Scotland manager, the most spectacular incident being a row in the dressing room after a draw with Hearts in 2008. He described as "an understatement" the description of his relationship with Strachan as bad. But he was philosophical about the past. "These things happen in football. I was young at the time and there's a couple of situations I would handle differently if they happened now. I met him not that long ago when Celtic played Rangers at Celtic Park and he asked how I was getting on. I'll save the stories for my memoirs. Hopefully, it will be a best-seller."

He dismissed talk of the international match being some sort of personal duel between him and his former manager.

"I was actually quite excited that we are playing against Scotland. I've a lot of mates in the team as well. I heard it was going to be at Celtic Park and there's going to be a type of reception waiting for myself and James McCarthy. But it was more that than me thinking: 'It's Strachan again'."

But he added with a smile: "It would be nice if we win."

The other strand of flavour to the international is that Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane, a former Celtic manager and player respectively, will be returning to Parkhead.

"Martin will relish the opportunity to go back to Celtic Park, where he's a bit of a legend. He came in and won the treble in his first season. I think regardless of who he is up against he'd want to win. And we all want to win too. But it would be nice for us all to go back to Celtic Park."

There is history, too, with Lennon, the Celtic manager, but McGeady was generous in his praise of a former colleague and former manager. "He probably deserves a shot in England but who knows if he would take it or not. You don't know," said McGeady of his former captain's prospects as a manager down south.

"Maybe he would feel he's done all he can at Celtic and there's no more left to give and that maybe it's time to try his luck in the English Premier League. I only worked with Lenny for 10 games as manager but I've nothing but respect for him. He was brilliant. Maybe on the park he was annoying sometimes but I think everyone would say that about Lenny."

This "annoyance" was probably best illustrated by Lennon grabbing McGeady by the throat in a disagreement over the concession of a goal against Dunfermline in 2006.

"Aye, but I wasn't actually in the wrong that day either. That could be another chapter of my memoirs, leading into another Strachan one about what happened in the dressing room afterwards," he said.

There may even be a dash of humour in his reminiscences. McGeady has travelled for work to Russia and Liverpool but he always keeps an eye on Scotland.

"I had a joke with Steven Naismith over Rangers' draw with Albion Rovers because we always have a bit of Old Firm banter. His response was: 'You're not even in the cup any more'. But I just said: 'I play for Everton'."

His reflections on the Rangers situation were frank.

"There were probably a lot of Celtic fans happy at the time when Rangers were demoted to the bottom league but over the last couple of years they've probably realised it would be beneficial to have them back. The fans would feel they've got more competition and then you'd have that rivalry back. I'd actually have liked to see Celtic still in the Scottish Cup for that reason - that would have been a good game."

But what about an emotional end to the footballing memoirs? Could McGeady come back to Celtic to play at the end of his career?

He said: "I've been asked many times if I ever see myself back at Celtic. I certainly left on good terms so it would be nice one day. But who knows if I'll be in the right state of mind, physical condition and whether they'd have me back?"

A return would, if nothing else, provide a title for those much anticipated memoirs. What else but Paradise Regained?

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