Former Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson has hailed former team-mate Craig Gordon as he prepares to join him in the Scottish Premier League.
Carson has left Hartlepool United following their relegation from the Football League, joining Motherwell as he looks to further his Northern Ireland ambitions ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
He has opened up on his relationship with Gordon while the pair were together on Wearside and said the Scot was unfairly criticised at times.
Chronic injury problems saw the £9million signing from Hearts, then a record fee for a British goalkeeper, leave on a free and it looked like he would have to retire from the game.
He has excelled at Celtic, however, and Antonio Conte tried to sign him for Chelsea in January.
“I was with Craig Gordon for three or four years. I was on the bench a lot under him and he always did well. I speak to him quite regularly. He’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with and I learned so much from him,” Carson told the Glasgow Evening Times.
“It’ll be surreal to come up against him, but it would be a fantastic experience.
“I was in the training session when he broke his arm. He did it in a game against Jermain Defoe but he came back to training and just dived down on it, only for it to break again. He was so unlucky.
“You could see from his first training session that he was worth every penny they’d paid for him and it was a lot of money at the time.
“He didn’t get the credit he deserved down there. I saw how good he was first-hand. He got unfair criticism.
“When he was playing well down there he was being linked with an even bigger move. In football, you’re only as good as your last game. The fee probably went against him.
“I remember speaking to him about two years ago and he was saying he thought he was going to have to pack it in and go into goalkeeping coaching.
“The way he’s got his career going again is just fairytale stuff. It shows what can be done up here.
“There he had Chelsea in for him so you’ll get noticed if you do well up here.”
Gordon’s revival has also drawn praise from former Celtic and now Southampton number one Fraser Forster.
Gordon looks set to take his place as the Scotland keeper for a crucial qualifier with England tomorrow after cementing his position as Celtic’s main stopper this season.
The writing had looked on the wall when Brendan Rodgers signed Dorus de Vries, who had been a key part of his possession-based game at Swansea, but Gordon saw off the challenge comfortably with a series of fine displays.
Forster hailed his efforts as ‘superb’. He said: “We only had a few weeks together at the time but I knew the type of keeper he was before the injuries. He still had it.
“It was just a case of getting up to speed.
“That’s finding what training was best for him, what load of training was best him. You look at the transfer fee he went for a few years ago to Sunderland. That was a while ago and a lot of money at the time, which shows you he’s a great keeper.
“Craig did well in England and he’s got a great habit of keeping the ball out of the net.
“He’s been working with Stevie Woods [the Celtic goalkeeping coach] and you have no doubts that whatever goalkeeper is in at Celtic, he will get the best out of them and take them to the top of their game.”
“Craig’s been superb. He’s worked so hard and very few players would be able to come back from that length of injury and that time with so few games. It tells you the character and mental strength that he has.”