James Forrest (footballer)

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James Forrest
20170701 SK Rapid Wien vs Celtic FC 1554.jpg
Forrest playing for Celtic in 2017
Personal information
Full name James Forrest
Date of birth (1991-07-07) 7 July 1991 (age 27)
Place of birth Prestwick, Scotland
Height 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
Playing position Right winger
Club information
Current team
Celtic
Number 49
Youth career
2002–2010 Celtic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2010– Celtic 190 (41)
National team
2008–2010 Scotland U19 13 (2)
2010–2011 Scotland U21 4 (0)
2011– Scotland 24 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20:12, 20 October 2018 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 19:18, 14 October 2018 (UTC)

James Forrest (born 7 July 1991) is a Scottish footballer who plays as a winger for Scottish Premiership club Celtic and the Scotland national team.

He joined Celtic's youth academy in 2003 and made his first team debut in the 2009–10 season. As a young player he was widely regarded as one of the brightest talents in the Scottish game. In November 2011, the Scottish Football Association's performance director, Mark Wotte, described him as being "the light in the darkness" of Scottish football. He has progressed to become a key player in a successful era for Celtic, winning seven consecutive league championships.

Forrest played at every youth level for Scotland, winning 13 caps for the under-19 team, scoring two goals, and four caps for the under-21 team. He made his senior international debut on 29 May 2011 against the Republic of Ireland, and has since won 22 caps.

Early life[edit]

Forrest had the prospect of a professional tennis career when he was younger.[1] He was consistently approached by Prestwick Tennis Club to play for them, but he refused as he wanted to pursue his career in football. He was described by coaches at the club as being a naturally talented player, who could just "pick up a racquet and play".[2] His younger brother, Alan Forrest, plays football for Ayr United.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Forrest played for South Ayr Boys Club, and consistently shone at every level. He was scouted by Celtic's talent spotter for Ayrshire, Jim Began, at the age of 11. Several other clubs such as Kilmarnock, Ayr United and Rangers were also interested in him. He signed youth terms with Celtic at the age of 13 and then joined Celtic's coaching school in Hamilton, which his coach Martin Millar credits with helping his development.[2]

Celtic[edit]

2009–10[edit]

On 30 August 2009, Forrest signed a four-year contract with Celtic. Their Head of Youth development, Chris McCart, hailed him as one of the best players in Celtic's U19 squad. Forrest had always excelled at Celtic, with a match program from 2004 singling him out for exceptional performances in the under-13 squad.[3] He made his first team debut for Celtic on 1 May 2010, coming on as a late substitute against Motherwell. He scored the third of Celtic's goals in a 4–0 win.[4]

2010–11[edit]

Forrest playing for Celtic in July 2010

He made his first European appearance for the club in a Champions League qualifying game against Braga in July 2010.[5] A few days later he won the man of the match award for his performance in the Emirates Cup game with Olympique Lyonnais.[6] He continued this fine form into the league campaign, scoring against St Mirren in a 4–0 victory.[7] Forrest played in both legs of Celtic's Europa League qualifier against Utrecht. Forrest was named the SPL Young Player of the Month for August 2010[8] In the following month Forrest opened the scoring against Hearts.[9] He made his Old Firm debut in a 2-0 win at Ibrox in January 2011.[10] He received the first red card of his career in the following match against Hamilton.[11] He would score against Hearts, before being rewarded for his form with a new five-year deal on 28 January 2011.[12][13] Forrest collected his first winner's medal on 21 May 2011 when he came on a late second-half substitute for Kris Commons in Celtic's 3–0 Scottish Cup Final win over Motherwell.[14] He finished the season with 3 goals and 1 assist after 25 appearances.

2011–12[edit]

In August 2011, Scott Brown said that Forrest was the best player to come out of the Celtic youth academy since Aiden McGeady.[15] Forrest scored his first goal of the season in a 5–1 victory against Dundee United and his performances in the month of September, including two goals in a 4–0 victory against Motherwell and another goal against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, saw him win SPL Young Player of the Month.[16] In Celtic's Scottish League Cup quarter-final tie with Hibernian on 26 October, Forrest was credited with a match-winning performance. Celtic went in at the break 1–0 down but Forrest was instrumental in reigniting the tie after half-time, with two early goals.[17]

On 31 October 2011, Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur's chief scout Ian Broomfield was reported to have watched Forrest in action. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp later confirmed this was true and that he believed Forrest to be a good player. However, he also said that at that stage he had not considered making a bid for Forrest.[18] In November 2011, the Scottish Football Association's Dutch performance director Mark Wotte, who helped start the careers of players like Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, said that he sees Forrest as being "the light in the darkness" of Scottish football.[19] He said that if more players like Forrest are produced then the Scotland team will be able to match the performance of countries like Uruguay, who got to the 2010 World Cup semi-final and at the time were fourth in the FIFA World Rankings despite having a population smaller than Scotland's.[20][21]

Forrest played in all of Celtic's matches in the Europa League qualifiers and group stage. Forrest scored against Dunfermline and won the SPL Young Player of the Month award for November, his second of the season.[22][23] In January 2012, Forrest was named one of the 13 players to watch in 2012 by world football governing body FIFA.[24] Forrest scored against St Mirren and Dunfermline before his season ended after suffering an injury during Celtic's defeat to Kilmarnock in the Scottish League Cup Final.[25][26][27] He finished the season having scored 9 goals and made 7 assists in 43 appearances and won his second major honour at the end of the season when Celtic finished as SPL Champions.[28] His form over the season also saw him win two personal awards as both the Scottish Football Writers' Association and Professional Footballers' Association Scotland voted him their respective Young Player of the Year as well as being named in the PFA Scotland SPL Team of the Year.[28][29]

2012–13[edit]

Forrest played in all four Champions League qualifiers in August 2012, as Celtic reached the group stage for the first time since 2008. He played in three out of six group stage matches and made an impact as a substitute in a 3–2 victory away to Spartak Moscow - Celtic's first away victory in the Champions League.[30] He missed Celtic's famous 2-1 victory against Barcelona due to injury. Forrest suffered with injury throughout the season scoring four and assisting eight goals in 29 appearances.[31] He scored his first goal of the season in a 4-0 victory against Ross County in December.[32] He scored his first goal in the Scottish Cup against Raith Rovers.[33] He played in both legs of Celtic's 5-0 aggregate defeat to Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League. He scored a penalty against Dundee and scored on the final league game of the season against St Johnstone.[34][35] Forrest finished the season with a second consecutive league title and his second Scottish Cup winners medal after starting Celtic's 3–0 win against Hibernian in the final.[36]

2013–14[edit]

In July 2013, Forrest scored his first European goal for Celtic in a second round Champions League Qualifier against Cliftonville.[37] In the following month he scored against Aberdeen in the league and scored a memorable third and decisive goal in the final moments of the second leg of the Champions League play-off against Shakhter Karagandy - which Celtic won 3-2 and qualified for the group stage for the second year in a row.[38][39] Having played in every qualifying match Forrest missed all of Celtic's games in September after suffering from a virus.[40] His return to action in October saw Forrest score an impressive goal against Hibernian and he played in four Champions League group stage matches - scoring a penalty in Celtic's 2–1 victory against Ajax.[41][42] Forrest was arrested by police in November 2013 over allegations of indecent exposure and sexual assault at a nightclub in Prestwick.[43] He would score two further goals in the league against Hearts and Aberdeen before injury ended his season in March.[44][45][46] He scored 7 goals and assisted 5 in only 27 appearances in another injury dominated season as Celtic won three league titles in a row.

2014–15[edit]

Forrest's injury issues continued after suffering a hamstring injury against Dundee United in the first home game of the season.[47] He only returned from injury in November and despite scoring his first goal of the season against St Mirren in December, Forrest was in and out of the team throughout the winter as both the player and coaching staff did not feel confident that Forrest's injury problems were over.[48][49] Two of Forrest's three European appearances came in the Europa League including coming on as a substitute in the second leg of Celtic's 4-3 aggregate defeat to Inter Milan in the last 32 of the competition. He featured more often in the Spring and came on as a substitute in Celtic's 2–0 victory against Dundee United in the Scottish League Cup Final, scoring the second goal before earning his side a penalty which he would fail to convert.[50] He would score two further goals in the league against St Mirren and Dundee.[51][52] Forrest made 29 appearances and scored and assisted 4 goals as Celtic won the league for the fourth consecutive season.

2015–16[edit]

Despite playing more games in a season free of injury Forrest only scored and assisted 2 goals in 33 appearances - scoring his two goals against Aberdeen and Hamilton in the league.[53][54] He featured in much of the first half of the season, including five appearances in both the Champions League qualifiers and the Europa League group stage, before being dropped by manager Ronny Deila after rejecting a new contract.[55] He only made nine more appearances after the new year as Celtic won the league for the fifth year in a row.

2016–17[edit]

Forrest signed a three-year contract with Celtic in August 2016.[56] He started the season strongly scoring Celtic's first goal of the season away to Hearts and scored in the following two league games against St Johnstone and Aberdeen.[57][58][59] In September he scored on his 200th appearance for Celtic against Alloa Athletic in the league cup and scored his fifth goal of the season against Kilmarnock.[60][61] Forrest played in every match Champions League qualifier and five group stage matches including draws home and away to Manchester City. On 27 November 2016 Forrest scored the second goal and won a penalty in a man of the match performance in the League Cup final as Celtic defeated Aberdeen 3-0 to win the club's 100th trophy.[62] After the winter break Forrest only scored two more goals against Motherwell and Kilmarnock.[63][64] Forrest was an unused substitute as Celtic defeated Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Cup Final to win the treble for the fourth time in their history and for the first time in 16 years.[65] Forrest made 46 appearances and scored 8 goals and assisted 13 as Celtic finished the domestic season without defeat after 47 matches to be nicknamed the "Invincibles".

2017–18[edit]

The beginning of the 2017–18 season saw Forrest play in every Champions League qualifier as he helped Celtic qualify for the group stage by scoring the decisive goal away to Rosenborg in a 1–0 aggregate victory in the third round and he scored another goal in a 8–4 aggregate win against Astana in the play-off round.[66][67] Forrest scored against Kilmarnock as he played as a striker in the absence of Moussa Dembélé and Leigh Griffiths.[68][69] His strong start to the season continued into September as he scored twice against Ross County in the league and scored another two goals in the following match against Dundee in the League Cup.[70][71]

Forrest played in all of Celtic's group stage matches in the Champions League including an impressive performance against Bayern Munich as he provided the assist for Callum McGregor to equalise in a 2–1 defeat at Celtic Park.[72] On 26 November 2017, Forrest scored his third goal in a League Cup final – becoming the first Celtic player since Bobby Lennox to score in three winning League Cup finals – after opening the scoring in a 2–0 win against Motherwell.[73]

In December, Forrest's goal tally for the season reached double figures for the first time after scoring twice against Motherwell in the league and he scored two more goals against Hamilton and Dundee before the winter break.[74][75][76] After returning to action in January Forrest opened the scoring against Brechin City in the Scottish Cup.[77] In the following month Forrest scored the first hat-trick of his career against Partick Thistle in a 3–2 win in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.[78] He played in both legs of Celtic's 3–1 aggregate defeat to Zenit in the round of 32 of the Europa League. His performances throughout the season saw him nominated for PFA Scotland Players' Player of the Year.[79]

On 29 April 2018, Forrest scored his first goal in an Old Firm derby as Celtic won the league for the seventh season in a row after a 5–0 win against Rangers at Celtic Park – the club's biggest winning margin in an Old Firm league fixture.[80] Forrest played in Celtic's 2–0 victory against Motherwell in the Scottish Cup Final as Celtic became the first Scottish club to win back-to-back trebles.[81] Forrest ended his most successful season to date having made 58 appearances – among the highest number of games played in professional football that season – and scored 17 goals and assisted 10.[82]

2018–19[edit]

Forrest began the 2018–19 season as first choice right-winger. He conceded a penalty and was sent off as last defender in a 3–1 Europa League group stage defeat away to FC Red Bull Salzburg on 4 October 2018,[83] at which time he was yet to score in the domestic campaign. However he kept his place for the next league fixture against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park and responded positively, scoring four goals in the first half (the first Celtic player to reach that tally in six years)[84] in an eventual 6–0 win.[85]

International career[edit]

Forrest has been capped for Scotland at under-16 and under-19 level. He made his Scotland under 19 debut on 20 October 2008 in a European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan.[86]

Following his fine club form at the start of the 2010–11 season, Forrest was called into the Scotland U21 side.[87] On 7 September, he came off the bench for Scotland U21s and assisted in the 89th minute for Chris Maguire to score the winning goal against Austria.[88]

On 17 May 2011, Forrest was selected in Craig Levein's Scotland senior team to face Wales and the Republic of Ireland in the Nations Cup.[89] He made his full international debut on 29 May 2011 in the match against the Republic of Ireland.[90] Forrest then came on as a substitute in Scotland's 2–1 win over Denmark on 10 August.[91]

On 22 December 2011, it was revealed that Forrest had been invited to the Great Britain team for the 2012 Summer Olympics,[92] but did not make the final cut for the Games.[93][94]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of 7 October 2018[95]
Club Season League Cup League Cup Europe Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Celtic 2009–10 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1
2010–11 19 3 3 0 0 0 3 0 25 3
2011–12 29 7 2 0 4 2 8 0 43 9
2012–13 15 3 4 1 1 0 9 0 29 4
2013–14 16 4 1 0 0 0 10 3 27 7
2014–15 19 3 5 0 2 1 3 0 29 4
2015–16 19 2 1 0 3 0 10 0 33 2
2016–17 28 6 2 0 4 2 11 0 45 8
2017–18 35 8 4 4 4 3 14 2 57 17
2018–19 7 4 0 0 2 0 9 2 18 6
Career total 189 41 22 5 20 8 79 7 310 61

International[edit]

As of 14 September 2018[96]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Scotland 2011 4 0
2012 3 0
2013 2 0
2015 4 0
2016 3 0
2017 5 0
2018 1 0
Total 22 0

Style of play[edit]

Although Forrest's favoured position is on the right wing, he can also play on the left or as a striker.[97][98]

Forrest is very quick and also has very good ball control and dribbling skills. This gives him the capability of beating his man and going down the wing, or coming inside and beating several players. His then manager, Neil Lennon, has said how over his first few seasons at Celtic he has been able to extend the distance of his "explosive runs" from 15 or 20 yards up to 30 or 40 yards. Forrest is also a very good finisher and, although predominantly right footed, also capable with his left. Forrest has great fitness levels and is generally able to keep playing at a very high intensity throughout the whole of a match. He has been described as a very enthusiastic player who has an incredible hunger and desire for the game and shows great bravery and vision in his play.[99][100][101][102] Former Rangers winger, and Scotland under-21 teammate, Gregg Wylde described him as being the kind of player who never hides from his responsibility during a match.[97]

Although he has been compared to former Celtic player Aiden McGeady, he is generally seen as being much more direct. He is more often compared to the old fashioned variety of Scottish wingers like Jimmy Johnstone, of Celtic, or Willie Henderson, of Rangers. Former Celtic legend Bertie Auld described him as being the kind of player who 'puts bums in seats' and then has the technical ability to "lift bums off the seats once the game starts".[102]

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Celtic[95]

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]