Farewell to treble-winner Aaron Mooy, as Australian announces retirement

He came. He saw. he convinced the doubters, and now Aaron Mooy leaves Celtic having played a key role in securing the club a world-record 8th domestic treble.

After managing a long-standing back injury all season, the 32-year-old Australian midfield playmaker confirmed his retirement during the week.  While Mooy’s decision was not entirely unexpected given his reduced involvement in the side during the closing stages of last season, it is still one that has been greeted with a degree of sadness amongst the Celtic support.

Mooy, considered to be one of the leading Australian players of his generation, had made almost 100 English Premier League appearances before his arrival in Paradise.  He also represented the Socceroos at two separate World Cup finals, playing every minute at both competitions.

2-in-1 replacement for Bitton and Rogic

Signed last summer on a free transfer from Chinese side Shanghai Port, Aaron Mooy’s arrival was met with general ambivalence from the Celtic support.  Due to a contractual dispute with Shanghai, Mooy had not played a competitive club fixture for 6 months prior to fellow Australian Ange Postecoglou adding him to his Celtic squad.

At the time of his signing, Mooy was seen as a low-cost replacement for the departed of Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic.  Signing a player with a reported value of £6 million on a free transfer seemed like a no-brainer, yet it was not a move that overly enthused the Celtic fanbase.

Mooy struggled to find his rhythm and make an impact in the early stages of his Celtic career, amassing a paltry 100 minutes over his first 5 appearances, all of which came off the bench.  His first league start, against former club St. Mirren, ended at half-time as Celtic crashed to their first league defeat of the season back in September, and Mooy’s early struggles continued.

Coming back from an extended lay-off due to his issues with Shanghai Port, Mooy was off the pace and contributed very little to the side in the first couple of months of the season.  However, as his fitness improved, so did his ability to influence games.

A knee injury to Callum McGregor in mid-October opened the door to regular first-team football for Mooy and the Australian grabbed it with both hands.  Two assists in a 6-1 rout of Hibernian at Celtic Park announced Mooy’s place in the team.  He would follow that performance up with a man-of-the-match display at Tynecastle the following weekend as Celtic won an enthralling battle 4-3.

From that point on, Mooy grew into the role of midfield maestro, orchestrating the team’s rhythm and dictating play from the heart of the field.  Shy and uncomfortable in front of the media, Mooy allowed his football to do his talking on the park.

Revival and League Cup magic

Returning from an outstanding World Cup with Australia, Mooy picked up where he left off.  Having notched his first assists against Hibs earlier in the season, he repeated the trick by opening his goal-scoring account against the same opposition at Easter Road at the end of December.

However, it was his role in the League Cup final success against Rangers that summed Mooy up perfectly.  While Kyogo basked in the limelight of scoring both goals, neither would have come about were it not for the quiet Australian.  Mooy played his role as an instigator on the fringes to perfection.

On that February afternoon, Mooy displayed the vision, poise, and weight of pass that had become his trademark over the past few months to devastating effect.  A slide rule pass in the 44th minute of the game released Greg Taylor whose cross was turned home by Kyogo to open the scoring.  Ten minutes into the second-half it was Reo Hatate who benefited from Mooy’s strength and vision in midfield, before squaring for Kyogo to double Celtic’s lead.

Mooy’s contribution to Celtic claiming the first leg of the treble cannot be understated.


Putting health first

Sadly, for Aaron Mooy, he was rarely able to complete a full 90 minutes.  This was, in part, down to Ange’s midfield rotation policy and often subbing two of the three midfielders around the 60 or 70-minute mark.  It was also, however, due to Mooy managing a debilitating back injury that ultimately forced him into calling time on his career at the young age of 32.

As many commentators have mentioned in the last few days, footballers are a long time retired, therefore this will not have been an easy decision for Aaron Mooy to make.  As someone who suffers from a degenerative spine condition, I can fully understand his decision to call time on his career and go out at the top.

There comes a time when your health comes first and the aches and pains are no longer worth the effort they take out of you to achieve.  We saw with Mooy that his recovery time towards the end of the season was extended and his form regressed slightly towards that of his early days at the club.

While he could possibly have forced another 12 months out of his body, the stress and strain he would have put on it may have caused unnecessary damage to his long-term health.  And that is the most important thing to consider in this circumstance.

Having come with little expectation from the Celtic support, Aaron Mooy leaves as a treble winner.  His contribution of 7 goals and 9 assists along the way in all competitions highlight the important role he played in securing all three trophies.

Aaron, thank you for the memories.

Kevin McCluskie

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