Callum McGregor (centre) claimed his first trophy as Celtic captain when winning the League Cup in December
Callum McGregor (centre) claimed his first trophy as Celtic captain when winning the League Cup in December

The Celtic player has amassed over 300 appearances for the club. That is more than the man. More than Kenny Dalglish.

The captain of the Australian side that won the Scottish title has 16 major honours to his name.

Scott Brown's natural successor has been eight years in the making, from the Celtic academy through orchestrating League One survival with a teenage Jack Grealish.

It all makes sense, according to the manager of the player. He meant a lot to Celtic.

He is the leader at that incredible, almighty football club. Brown was unbelievable for Celtic, but even though Callum is a different type of player and person, he will also go down with legendary status.

'Without Callum, we would've gone down'

Before he made his Celtic debut, he was sent out on loan to Notts County for six months at the age of 20.

In his first 13 games in League One, he scored six goals from the middle of the field, but his team did not follow suit. Chris Kiwomya was replaced by Derry three months into the season.

The new boss was made aware of two players who had different levels of technique. The other was Grealish, who was on loan from Villa.

Derry, who is now first-team coach at Crystal Palace, remembers the first training session vividly. He was the one who would stay behind and do extra.

He showed a great maturity when he was away from his usual surroundings and he trained and conducted himself well.

Callum McGregor celebrates with Notts County players
McGregor (right) played a crucial part in Notts County's League One survival

After Celtic gave the green light for him to stay for the second half of the season, he finished as the top scorer with 14 goals and helped the side stay in the third tier.

Derry says that the great escape wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Callum. He took responsibility for his career at a young age. We were fortunate to have him.

It is completely different to fighting in a team that is trying to stay in the league when he is in the south. It made him realize how hard it was.

I had no doubt that he was going to go back and play for Celtic. He has stood the test of time up there and is now playing in Europe and winning trophies.

Rodgers influence & Brown's 'natural successor'

Derry says that the perfect loan ended in May of last year. Celtic scored a goal in their first appearance in the playoffs.

Celtic won their fourth consecutive league title under Ronny Delia and then played in 34 more games in the next season as the league flag was retained.

Then came Brendan Rodgers. He elevated the game of McGregor, who appeared in a mammoth 101 matches across back-to-back treble-winning seasons, contributing to 38 goals.

When Brown decided to call time on his Celtic career last summer, Rodgers believed there was only one candidate who could fill the void.

"It was always going to be difficult to replace Scott," Rodgers said. "Callum has different qualities and strengths, but he loves the club and knows what it takes to play and be successful for Celtic. He's the guy to naturally take over."

'Choked up' at Wembley & Scotland rise

In November of last year, McGregor made his Scotland debut in a friendly against the Netherlands.

A further 41 Scotland caps have followed, with 10 of them earned by Alex McLeish and James McFadden.

He never had to be told twice. He understands the game and is an intelligent player.

You could see his leadership qualities. He wanted to know the roles of the people around him. He was a top professional.

Scotland booked their place in the World Cup play-off with the help of Billy Gilmour and John McGinn, and since the appointment of Steve Clarke in May, he has featured in all but two of 33 games.

The trio started in the meeting with England. Derry was hit with a wave of emotion in the stands as Grealish and McGregor shared the Wembley pitch in a major finals.

Derry says that it was an unbelievably proud moment for him. I am very proud to have played a small part in their development.

Callum's technique is not appreciated. He has absorbed the Celtic captaincy and is growing into it.

He is only getting better as a player. He deserves recognition in a Scotland top. He has made himself a vital part of the team.