CELTIC right back Alistair Johnston has admitted that taking himself ‘into the shadows” has enabled him to cope with life in the Glasgow goldfish bowl and protect his mental health.

Johnston, who moved to Scotland from Montreal in his native Canada at the end of 2022, has found becoming a public figure and being constantly approached by fans to be difficult to deal with at times.

However, he has received invaluable advice from his more experienced club mates, the likes of James Forrest, Joe Hart and Callum McGregor, since arriving in this country and has discovered having outside interests away from football can help to release the pressure.

The defender, who is set to represent his country at the Copa America in the United States next month, has enjoyed taking his black Labrador dog Salem for walks during the cinch Premiership and Scottish Gas Scottish Cup double campaign.

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“I’ve learned that going to the grocery store and even just simple things like that, you are constantly getting bombarded and just recognised,” he said. “It takes a mental toll on you as well.

“I did struggle with that because it was just something that I wasn’t used to. But talking to the older guys is good. You can see Jamesy, he is never going to go a day pretty much without someone saying something about it [Celtic].

The Herald: “You have to be select sometimes. You need to understand how much energy you are actually expending in those conversations. You want to be there for the fans, but, at the same time, you need to also really prioritise your mental health as well.”

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Johnston added: “So it’s been something I have learned, how to tune out of it. I’ve had some great releases in terms of getting a dog and stuff and that’s just taken my mind off it.

“You know, you go for an evening walk and you can just kind of be yourself and hide in the shadows of the darkness a little bit. It’s things like that I have learned from talking to older guys. 

“And it’s things like that help you not just go through each day and count them down, but really enjoy them because, at the end of the day, you are not going to be at this club forever, except if are like Jamesy and a club legend. Your time is always limited at a place like this.”