When Ryan Christie debuted for Inverness Caledonian Thistle versus Celtic, few beyond his hometown club envisioned that he’d eventually sport the famed green and white jersey of his opposition.
Christie’s meteoric rise over recent months will have come as little surprise to fans of the Highlands-based club. Initially introduced into an Inverness side transitioning towards a more technical style of play, he impressed in his debut campaign.
“The moment I came to the club I saw his talent and he needed to be training with the first team” – John Hughes, Christie’s former Inverness coach
It was the following season, however, in which both Inverness and Christie flourished. In the clubs most successful season to date, Inverness finished third in the Scottish Premiership and won their first Scottish Cup.
Christie was integral to Inverness’ success, often deployed as one of three attacking outlets in midfield. It was merely the first full professional season of his career, yet Christie’s undeniable ability to distribute and dribble combined with his game awareness and impeccable attitude allowed him to shine in an already impressive side. Club success coincided with personal success for Christie as he was voted the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year and like his father before him, he’d agreed on a deal to sign for Celtic.
Initially loaned back to Inverness the following season, Christie was later recalled and introduced to the Celtic squad in January. Game time was reduced for the remainder of the season under Ronny Deila and it appeared that Christie would suffer a similar fate to his father, who failed to make a first-team appearance for Celtic.
Little changed after the clubs appointment of Brendan Rodgers the following summer as Christie’s opportunities remained limited. Interest was shown in January by Aberdeen, who flexed their tendency to sign ex-Inverness players, and signed Christie on an initial six-month loan deal.
Christie flourished and his stint with Aberdeen totaled a season-and-a-half. Similarly to his spell at Inverness, his attacking prowess was utilised as part of an attacking trio. Similarities in his game remained from his time in the Highlands, however, he’d added final product to his game.
Consistent goals and assists made Christie an important player in an Aberdeen side that finished second over two consecutive seasons in the Scottish Premiership.
“Celtic made it clear that he has to go back for pre-season… Brendan said he’s part of their plans going forward, so that for me kills it unless it changes from Celtic’s point of view.” – Derek McInnes, Christie’s former Aberdeen coach
Despite clear intentions from Aberdeen to retain Christie, he instead returned to Celtic Park this summer. After consecutive treble-winning seasons, it was questioned whether Christie could emerge from the periphery at Celtic.
All doubts have since been quashed in a career-defining month. Including and beyond Celtic’s semi-final triumph versus Hearts, in which he contributed to all three goals, Christie has assisted six and scored four in nine starts for club and country and has proved integral in both League Cup and Nations League successes.
“I always felt he could come back and then make a contribution because you need that personality to play for the big clubs and play in big games… Since he’s come back, he’s shown that. He’s come into games, he started games and you saw his impact.” – Brendan Rodgers, Christie’s current Celtic coach
Christie’s renaissance as a Celtic player is nothing short of spectacular and with his self-belief and the continued confidence of his coach, Christie will be an asset for both club and country for some time.
“When I first came up here, he used to be Charlie Christie’s son and now Charlie is known as Ryan Christie’s dad.” – Brendan Rodgers, Christie’s current Celtic coach
Both Charlie and Ryan are remembered fondly from their time in the Highlands, as local Invernesians who were integral figures in some of Inverness’ most successful periods. While Charlie wasn’t able to replicate that form for the duo’s boyhood club, it appears that Ryan will. Ryan Christie isn’t only living his dream, but that of his father too.