AFTER a season of such starkly contrasting ups and downs, the nickname that Ryan Christie’s teammates have bestowed upon him doesn’t just reflect the way he looked after the horrendous impact with Aberdeen defender Dom Ball that ended his campaign.

The brutal collision in the Scottish Cup semi-final saw Ball ordered off, but it was Christie who suffered the longer-term damage. Ending a season where he won a new contract, scored the winning goal in a cup final and established himself for both club and country on the operating table having his face put back together wasn’t quite the finale he had planned, but the dark humour of the dressing room is keeping his spirits up as he faces up to missing out on the Scottish Cup final next weekend.

So, what exactly is his new moniker around Lennoxtown? “Twoface from Batman,” Christie sighed.

“You could be standing on one side and I looked completely fine but when I turned around you would hear a ‘Jesus Christ!’”

It is hard not utter a similarly profane response when he reels off the damage, and how the surgeon went about repairing it.

“I broke my cheekbone, fractured my eye socket in two places and fractured my jaw,” he said.

“They cut in here [under his eye], just above my eye, the side of my head and cut into my mouth – four different places. They put a plate into my cheek and one into the side of my head.

“To be fair to the surgeon I have thanked him already. I know how hard a job he had of trying to make it as symmetrical as possible, but I think I’ll have a stronger cheekbone than I had before, so I’ll be able to take a punch if I ever need to.

“I haven’t had surgery like that before, so it was a bit scary at first and all kind of things happen afterwards. I still don’t have any feeling in some of my teeth at that side or down my cheek.”

Christie has very little recollection of either the incident or the few days afterwards, but his loved ones may well feel he was the lucky one. Dad Charlie was at the game and rushed from the stand to be at his son’s side, but mum Sharon was the one who was really in the dark about her son’s welfare.

“[Dad]’s a panicker when it comes to stuff like this, so he got a bit of a fright,” Christie said.

“I think because I was so out of it he was a bit shook up about it, but when I was back home and day-by-day I was feeling and looking physically slightly better than the last day, that helped my family to see I was on the mend.

“[Mum] was listening to it on the radio out in the garden, and she said that apparently the commentator’s words were about sending thoughts out to the family.

“So, she was thinking it was really serious, she was probably the worst of the lot my poor mum.

“Apparently, I was calling everyone to tell them I was ok, though I can’t remember that. But once everyone got that phone call it was a bit more relaxed.

“I’ve watched it a couple of times, but I don’t really like looking back at it,” he continued. “I can’t remember much at all.

“I can remember coming out of the tunnel, lining up, going into the huddle. But that’s the last thing I can remember until about 10 o’clock at night when my girlfriend visited me in the hospital.

“Even a few days after the concussion was still quite bad. The morphine and stuff, it’s kind of wiped my memory.”

The further frustration for Christie is not just that this latest setback - having also suffered through a spell on the sidelines back in February with a hamstring injury - has stopped him taking part in the season’s showpiece occasion, but that it has hampered his chances of impressing his new boss, Neil Lennon.

But reflecting on where he has come from in this past 12 months to where he is now is helping him to put this latest layoff into some kind of perspective.

“Going back to the start of the season I would never have thought it would go the way it did,” he said. “I’ve been delighted with how it went.

“It’s been very up and down [but] to be fair, when the season finishes and I look back on it, I don’t think the injuries will bother me that much.

“Obviously I’m missing a few big games, but when I think back to where I was at the start of the season, I could never have imagined this is the way it would have turned out.

“During the transfer window I didn’t know where my future was going to lie, and it was getting harder and harder to see myself breaking into this team, especially with how well they had done when I was away on loan.

“For the way it has gone and to have signed a new contract means I’m now only looking forward to next season with Celtic, which is something I definitely didn’t have last year.”

Now on the mend and with the swelling on his face regressing to a point where he is hoping to shake off his new nickname soon, Christie is starting to ponder fighting his way back into the first-team fold this summer.

He has even almost forgiven his former flatmate, Ball, if not being quite ready to let him completely off the hook.

“I’ve spoken to him a few times,” he said. “We stayed with each other when I was up at Aberdeen.

“To be fair to him, he’s been in constant contact. The first few weeks I made sure he was feeling bad about it.

“I think he was a bit shaken up by it after it happened. He was desperate to come down and visit but because of the surgery and the way it was it was best he stayed away for a bit.

“But now I’m back it’s fine, although we’re not quite at the joking stage.”

Unfortunately for ‘Twoface’, it seems his teammates didn’t get the memo.