THERE is the high road, the low road and the hard road to Scotland, and seemingly, Gustaf Lagerbielke has taken them all.

When Celtic’s latest Swedish centre-back touched down in Glasgow this week to complete his move to the Premiership champions, it wasn’t the first time he had set foot on Scottish soil, touring the roads less travelled on a Highland holiday with his family as a youngster.

It was a journey that serves as a rather neat metaphor for the path he has taken in football that has eventually led him to Celtic, with plenty of bumps along the way, some adverse conditions, but an ultimately rewarding conclusion.

READ MORE: Last 16 in Celtic sights as Matt O'Riley urges Champions League belief

It has been a meteoric rise for the 23-year-old, who was playing in the third tier of Swedish football with minnows Sollentuna FK just three years ago, but he feels that the challenges he has had to overcome to make it to Celtic will make his adaptation to such a comparatively huge stage easier to handle.

"When I was little, maybe 10 or 11, I was here with my family,” Lagerbielke said.

“We rented a car and went around Scotland staying at bed and breakfasts just looking at the country. 

“We were in the Highlands looking at the really beautiful nature. We saw Loch Ness but did not see Nessie! It was in the summer, so it was raining!

“I played for youth teams around Stockholm [then] and then moved to AIK. I went to high school there and played for their under 19s, and trained with the first team.

“I went on a pre-season camp to Dubai with them, but they had won the league that year and maybe my chances of first team football were limited.

“I went on loan to a third division club and was there for two-and-a-half years, went to a second division side and scored a few goals and then went to Elfsborg. I also had a loan spell before playing fully this this year.

“I maybe did it the hard way, but I think it toughened me up. When I was younger, I always felt we were a bit too careful with the training and that limited me. I wanted to take a step down and focus on my development for the long run.

“It was hard in the beginning but when I started playing I moved quickly to the next steps – and really fast to here. I rose quickly. It was a big decision to move down the levels, but I wanted to play senior football rather than in the youth teams. I wanted to see real football, while taking more control over my training.

“It was a big step going to Elfsborg. I made my debut against Feyenoord in the Europa Conference League and that was a bit step up to adapt to. But I managed to play a lot when I was on loan.

“I got to develop my leadership skills by taking responsibility. I have taken that with me to Elfsborg and now here.

“I think it will help. I’ve dealt with hard times before and managed to get through them and come out stronger on the other side many times in my career.

“That always makes you stronger for the next challenge, because you know that you can do it.”

Lagerbielke then was clearly not afraid to take more than a few steps backwards to take a huge leap forward, but he also projects a sense that he won’t be taking a backwards step for anyone during his time in Scotland.

In fact, he is confident that he can belie his tender years and relative lack of top-level experience by quickly emerging as a leader within this Celtic team.

READ MORE: Measured Celtic can blow Rangers out the water when season ignites

“I’d like to think so,” he said.

“I was the second captain in my Third Division team when I was 20 I think, and then I got to take the armband for a game for the club I was on loan at last year. I would like to think that it is more about showing than talking.

“I feel ready. We’ve had half of the season, I played on Sunday, and I feel match fit.  I’m really looking forward to playing for Celtic. 

“Every game you walk into, you have to go to win. I’ve always had that in my career, no matter if I’d been playing with a team at the bottom of the league or one on the top. 

“Every game, I want to win.”

Lagerbielke is all too aware of the super Swedes that have adorned the Hoops before him over the years, and he was touched by a welcome message that Mikael Lustig posted on social media this week heralding his arrival at the club, and proclaiming him to be the next Swedish star of Celtic.

“I don’t know about star, but Lustig had a great career, and if I am close to that when I leave Celtic than I will be happy,” he said.

“That was a really warm welcome. I don’t know him, but I have seen him play at Celtic and in the national team for a long while.

“He’s been one of the greatest full backs for the Swedish National Team in recent history, and from what I’ve heard he is also a really great guy, funny and a good leader.

“My first thoughts [when I heard about Celtic’s interest] were about the fans and the stadium, all the titles this club has won, Henrik Larsson and Lustig. They were the first thoughts that popped up.”

He readily admits he has a long way to go to be ranked alongside Lustig in the eyes of his new supporters, never mind Celtic’s King of Kings in Larsson.

Though, reports from his homeland last week suggested that Lagerbielke may actually be able to make a justifiable claim to the title, stating that he was in fact 254th in line to the Swedish throne.

“I saw something on social media that someone had dug it up about my family,” he laughed.

“It’s not something I knew or was aware of. I asked my dad, and he said the part about being in line for the throne wasn’t true!

“The family does have a barony and we have a coat of arms and all that stuff. I did get a pair of shin guards with the coat of arms on them. I got them as a gift when I was maybe 11 or 12, but I don’t wear them now. I certainly didn’t grow up in a castle!

“If it was (true) I’d have heard about it. So, I knew it was not true. It was fun that some people believed it for a second.”

So, he might not be the heir to Larsson’s throne by any stretch, but Lagerbielke is at least confident of continuing the line of Swedish stars who have contributed so richly to Celtic over the years.