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Ryan Christie a Highland hero: where it began

There were few moments to celebrate in Scotland’s ill-fated German journey in Euro 2024, but one Tartan Army midfielder made his own piece of history.

Ryan Christie became just the second Highlander to make his way into the Scottish Football Association’s International Roll of Honour, after making his 50th national team appearance in starting the tournament opener against the host nation.

It was a special moment for a player who has contributed so much to two European Championship qualifications and truly seems to cherish every single second he wears the dark blue jersey.

The Invernesian, who featured in all three of Steve Clarke’s side’s tournament games, has experienced a unique footballing journey.

As the son of former Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle midfielder Charlie, it would’ve been easy for the now-Bournemouth midfielder to stay in his father’s shadow or choose a career path with lighter expectations.

A ten-year-old Christie was snapped up by Caley Thistle and said that without the club he would’ve been lucky to have plied his trade in the Highland League.

Footballing opportunities traditionally are limited in the North of Scotland, something the versatile midfielder carried with him in his youth days.

Speaking to the Inverness Courier, Christie said: “When I was growing up, playing for the youth team, it was almost like it was us against the central belt. We wanted to prove we could go and compete.

“Any time I was called up for the Scotland youth teams, I carried that with me too.

“I wanted to prove a point.”

Christie, who attended Millburn Academy as a pupil, stressed the importance of junior player integration into first teams as he came through the academy with the likes of Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Polworth.

A first-team debut came at the age of 18, and just a matter of months later he was playing in the club’s Scottish League Cup final defeat to Aberdeen, forcing his way into one of the club’s greatest ever sides.

Youth honours with Scotland’s U21 side would follow later that year, as Christie helped his boyhood heroes to their only major honour in winning the 2014-15 Scottish Cup, which catalysed a stellar footballing career.

A move to Celtic was followed by loans back to Caley and to Aberdeen, which helped him break into the national team set-up, whilst he would play over 150 games and win eight trophies at Parkhead before moving down south to Bournemouth where he has played his best football in England’s Premier League.

A goal and a tear-filled interview after Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualification in Belgrade perhaps epitomise the talent and passion, the midfielder brings to his game.

It’s a rare story that a footballer would not only emulate his father’s success in the game but better it and Ryan Christie serves as an example to any young Highlander for what can be achieved in the game.

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