THE knee problem that was discovered just as he was poised to sign for Celtic some 14 months ago may have been rectified by a successful operation and lengthy rehabilitation, but David Turnbull was still taking no chances this week.

“Last year I posed for photographs with the manager while I was wearing the strip,” he said as he spoke to the media at a socially distanced press conference at Parkhead yesterday. “This time I made sure I passed the medical first!

“I just wanted the medical this week to be over with as quickly as possible. It wasn’t going to be the same scenario as last year because I was confident everything was fine. The surgeon had reassured me. Even so, it was weird going in for it.

“It’s crazy what can happen, but it’s all worked out for the best. It could have been worse if the injury had never been detected. It’s probably a good thing that I got it dealt with straight away. That’s it over with now.”

Turnbull, who finally completed his £3.25m transfer from Motherwell to Celtic on Wednesday, is understandably keen to look forward after coming through an ordeal which lesser young men would have crumbled under the pressure of.

The 21-year-old, one of the brightest prospects to emerge in Scottish football for many years, certainly has an exciting future ahead of him in his new surroundings.

Yet, it is also unsurprising that his thoughts are, given that he has spent the last 12 years wearing a claret and amber strip, very much still with the Fir Park club.

He is pleased they will benefit financially from his sale and optimistic the new training ground his fee may go towards building will enable them to a produce a few more exceptional prospects in the years to come.

“I joined Motherwell when I was nine,” he said. “It’s obviously going to be strange at first, especially at the weekend (Celtic play Motherwell at Parkhead in the Premiership tomorrow).

“I’m sad to have left, but delighted to be here as well. I’ll keep in contact with everybody at the club. They all looked after me throughout the years. It’s a great club. I saw the manager’s comments (about the training ground) and that’s a good thing. They are always looking to the future and what young players are coming through.

“If I can help that out I’ll be happy. Hopefully, a few boys can step up as I did. I signed the new contract because I wanted to look after the club given how well they’d looked after me. It’s obviously worked out.”

Turnbull, who will be vying with Scott Brown, Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham for a place in the Celtic starting line-up, is undeterred by the considerable task he faces establishing himself and the scrutiny he will be under as he attempts to do so.

“I know the pressures of playing with this club and I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’m up for the challenge. The likes of Scott Brown and Callum McGregor are obviously the best midfielders in the country.

“They’ll all be able to help me out, the Scots and the foreign boys. I’ve met them all and they were all brilliant with me. They’ll show me the way and teach me what to do and keep me right which is good. I’m looking forward to it.”

Turnbull continued: “I don’t know if I’ll offer something different, but I feel I can bring goals and attacking play. I like to run in behind and get box to box. That’s what I am looking forward to doing.

“Life will obviously be different, with the pressures that come along with it. I guess I’ll be more in the spotlight, but I’ll just do what I’ve always done and work as hard as I can.

“I’m sure it will help being laid back. I’ll try to be as chilled out as I can be. I take the game serious, but it’s also about relaxing and being as calm as possible.”

Turnbull certainly kept his cool when his transfer to Celtic fell through last summer. He was always confident he could recover from his injury, get back to the level he was playing at previously and conclude the deal. It spurred him on during the nine long months that he spent on the sidelines.

“I knew that if I came back and played as well as I had before that clubs would be looking at me,” he said. “I was hoping that Neil Lennon would be looking as well. Having that light at the end of the tunnel helped because rehab is tougher than people think.

“You’re stuck in a room doing your leg exercises and most of the time you’re on your own. It’s all about trying to find things to do to get you through it but it’s all been worth it now.

“My mum and dad, my brother and my girlfriend helped and so did Davie Henderson, the physio at Motherwell. He stuck by me every day and treated me like his own son.”

The players who have followed the same path from Motherwell to Celtic in the past – and Brian McClair, Andy Walker, Phil O’Donnell and Scott McDonald all did so – have gone on to win titles and trophies and Turnbull fully intends to emulate their success.

“It’s good that so many players have moved from Motherwell to Celtic and have done so well,” he said. “It’s up to me to follow in their footsteps and do as well as they did.

“Most of them are before my time, but I can remember Phil O’Donnell coming back and playing at Motherwell. Everyone always spoke highly of him and said how good a player he was. He certainly was from what I saw and heard. I’ll try and follow that.”