Michael Johnston: Profile
Name: Michael Johnston
Date of birth: Apr 19, 1999
Michael Johnston: Introduction
Michael Johnston is the latest shining light coming through the Scotland ranks. Admittedly, injuries have hampered his early development, however, his time on the pitch has showcased clear quality.
A winger with the versatility and confidence to play as a number 10, his speed and skill enable Johnston to open up areas of space and then finish chances with a powerful strike. His reading of the game and quick decision making, meanwhile, give rise to a decisive player available for teammates to find in behind to create and finish opportunities.
Michael Johnston: Background
A Celtic fan born and bred, Michael Johnston looks set to prove the next exciting talent coming out of Parkhead. Born in Glasgow, Johnston joined the Celtic youth academy in 2008. Developing through the ranks, his position was fluid, with the youngster handed opportunities on the wing and in behind the striker.
Speaking about his time in the Hoops' academy, during which he was often used as a ball boy, Johnston admitted that he used to spot himself on television. "My biggest night as a ballboy was the win over Barcelona when Tony Watt scored. I was in first year at secondary school. Kieran Tierney was doing it that night as well," said Johnston.
"It was usually the older boys who were picked, so I was always left out, but I was buzzing when I got that game."
Johnston made his first-team debut in 2017, and immediately signed a new contract lasting until 2020, which would then be extended for a further 5 years in 2019. During this time, the attacker suffered a string of injuries, both muscular and ligament, so was thankful for the club's commitment to his talents:
"I've had the downside of the injury, so that halted my progress a wee bit this year, but I'm just trying to get back fit and get as many games as possible to get my stats up," he explained, after penning the extension to his contract.
"There are always going to be ups and downs in football, and there are things you can learn from, and if you can overcome it mentally, then that will hold you in good stead.
Expert insight on Michael Johnston
"Mikey Johnston is a winger who can also play in behind the striker in the advanced 'number 10' role. He graduated from the youth academy at Scottish champions, Glasgow Celtic.
Johnston is a very entertaining winger, with a high level of skill and trickery which he uses to beat his opponents. His game depends on his quick feet, and his intelligence to link between the wing and the centre forward position. He uses his exceptional movement and awareness to draw defenders in and then drifts off them from his wide position into a central area, where he can either shoot or provide assists.
When playing in his most favoured position, left wing, he can use his pace to beat his opponent over 5-10 yards which then allows him to either drift inside or go down the wing. For someone who is quite small, he is difficult to knock off the ball as his touch and spatial awareness gives him the time to move away from his man.
Johnston has been compared in the past to English midfield hero, and former Glasgow Rangers star, Paul Gascoigne. His ability to move as fast with the ball as he can without the ball, is a quality Gascoigne had in the early stages of his career.
A player with such qualities will continue to make a name for himself both domestically and internationally."
Tactical Overview of Michael Johnston
Johnston's skill and quick thinking enable him to find situations in which he can out-think opposing defenders and find space. His close control and powerful strike with relatively little back-lift also make it difficult to predict when the Scot is going to pull the trigger.
He is often seen taking the ball close to goal and drawing in defenders, before using a piece of technical close control to create pockets of space to get a shot off.
Typically found on the left, Johnston, whilst left-footed, has no problem using his right foot, as shown in the example above. In turn, he can cut inside when playing on the left flank to take players on, before unleashing a right-footed effort.
Being a left-footed left winger, crossing is naturally a big part of Johnston's game. Spotting teammates in the box and deciding on his crossing technique are areas of Johnston's game which are improving all the time, and with more game time, such traits will only improve further.
An ambidextrous winger possessing a powerful strike in combination with pace and technical ability, Michael Johnston has the potential to become a key figure for both his club and nation moving forward.