Glasgow (AFP) – After a shaky start to his Celtic career, Tom Rogic has developed from being a skinny kid from Canberra to a star tipped for the top of European football.
The Australian midfielder, affectionately known as the ‘Wizard of Oz’ by supporters, can do no wrong for the Scottish champions at the moment.
The 24-year-old played an integral part for Brendan Rodgers’s side last season as he scored the winner in the Scottish Cup final that saw the Glasgow giants claim a trio of trophies without tasting defeat domestically.
And the Socceroo star has once again been working his magic on the pitch this season with a man-of-the-match performance against Kilmarnock last weekend.
Rogic was the architect of the 2-0 win as he set up both goals with one of the scorers, James Forrest, labelling him as the heart of creativity in a Celtic side brimming with quality.
“Tom, for the size of him, he’s got great feet. He’s great to play with because he finds space and has the ability to slip us in,” Forrest said.
“He’s good with the one-twos and you saw at my goal the quality he has.
“That’s what we needed, a bit of life and creativity. He definitely brings that.”
The Australian international also played a starring role during European qualification as he helped guide Celtic to the Champions League group stages.
Rogic will now face up to the world’s most expensive player, Neymar, and his Paris Saint-Germain team-mates along with European giants Bayern Munich and Belgian side Anderlecht after a mouth-watering draw.
It is just another part of the fairytale adventure for the Australian, whose career was kick-started after he won a worldwide football talent search contest organised by sportswear firm Nike.
However, Rogic has had to work hard to recover from a frustrating start at Celtic Park following his arrival from A-League side Central Coast Mariners in January 2013.
The central midfielder suffered several injury problems and found his game time limited before being shipped back to Australia for a loan spell with Melbourne Victory.
By the time Rogic reported back in Glasgow in the summer of 2015 he had not started for Celtic since September 2013 and his future at the Scottish champions looked in doubt.
But when his opportunity came under then manager Ronny Delia, the Australian grabbed it with both hands as he made 39 appearances and found the back of the net 10 times in his breakthrough season.
Rogic, who has seven goals in 25 games for the national side, has gone from strength-to-strength under the tutelage of Rodgers.
“The magic man is back -– what a player,” the Celtic manager said when welcoming Rogic back from an injury spell last season.
“He’s an amazing player. I think he can grow into one of the top midfield players in Europe. There’s no doubt he’s top class.
“Top players know where there is space and he’s as good as any I’ve seen at finding space. He’s a fantastic talent.”
Rogic’s Celtic will look to continue their winning start to the defence of their Scottish Premiership crown when they host St Johnstone, who also have had a 100 per cent start to the season.
Rivals Rangers will hope to end a run of two games without a win when they travel to Dingwall to take on Ross County on Sunday.
Fixtures (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated)
Celtic v St Johnstone, Kilmarnock v Hamilton, Motherwell v Hearts, Partick Thistle v Aberdeen
Dundee v Hibernian (1130), Ross County v Rangers
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