But perhaps most telling is the fact that nobody talks about Josip Juranovic that much anymore. It was an incredibly difficult task for Johnston to replace the Croatia international when an impressive World Cup campaign saw him join Union Berlin.
Johnston himself was in Qatar with Canada and knew he was succeeding a ‘special player’. But three winners’ medals in just 20 appearances suggest the 24-year-old right-back has done something right since arriving from CF Montreal to Glasgow.
And as he prepares for life under new coach Brendan Rodgers, Johnston feels ready to take his game to a new level next season.
CONTINUE READING: Yang may have to wait a long time to seal his dream move to Celtic
“It was a great fit for me,” he said. “No matter who came in and Tony [Ralston] did a great job as a full-back, I like how I’ve played so far. But I think my game will bring another level.
“I think Josip, if you look at what he’s doing at Union Berlin, he’s amazing. He was a special player for Celtic.
“To even earn a move like that says everything about him.
“Look, I think there are still levels in my game that I haven’t shown yet, and that’s kind of exciting for me.”
From the outside, you’d think Johnston has mastered life in Scottish football so far, but he revealed things haven’t been smooth sailing. He revealed former manager Ange Postecoglou had predicted the first six months would be a real test as he adjusted to the role of reversed full-back, which became so during the current Tottenham manager’s time in the SPFL had proved effective, however, Johnston would reap the benefits of such experience in full pre-season this summer.
There could now be another adjustment period for Johnston as Rodgers realizes his vision for a new Celtic image, but Johnston is comfortable and thanks his coaches and colleagues for supporting him through this adjustment period.
“He [Postecoglou] told me the first six months was going to be difficult, a new system and a completely different way of playing the position,” recalled Johnston. “But he felt I would feel a lot more comfortable once I had done the pre-season. And I can feel that.
“Although people in the outside world believe it no longer exists, there were still difficulties and struggles in the system. But I’m lucky, I have a really good group of people and coaching staff to help me.”
Fellow full-backs Ralston and Greg Taylor were particularly important in Johnston’s transition. He revealed the pair “showed me the basics,” though it rarely seemed like the former Nashville SC defenseman needed much guidance.
CONTINUE READING: Tottenham finally confirm Ange Postecoglou’s coaching staff
Johnston believes he’s had it comparatively easy given the major transition brought about by Celtic’s influx of Japanese stars. He points out that people like Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and others were thrown into a completely different culture where they didn’t speak the language. Johnston, on the other hand, admits he’s never felt out of place in Scotland.
“Tony, Greg, all these guys showed me how to do it,” he said. “They helped make the transition as easy as possible.
“It also helped to come to a country where I don’t feel out of place. The year before they said the Japanese were in a similar situation, after playing a full season and then coming to the SPFL it was difficult. They had to learn a whole new language and culture.
“But for me, growing up in a British household and speaking English, it really wasn’t that much of a transition.”