THE vile chants which are often directed at opposition players and the ill-informed poison that is frequently posted about them on the internet are of little concern to an experienced professional like Leigh Griffiths.

The Celtic and Scotland striker’s immediate family, his young children in particular, are a different matter entirely.

Griffiths, who received a rapturous reception when he made his competitive comeback after seven months out in the Champions League qualifier against Sarajevo at Parkhead last week, removed himself from social media during the extended break he took from the game to deal with serious personal issues.

However, what has been written about him online and sung about him in the stands during a difficult period in which he has battled with depression still filtered back to him. Seeing the distress that it caused his mum Gloria and young son Rhys pained him and made his return to action all the sweeter.

“You get some negative people who start vicious rumours about this and that and why I’ve been off,” he said after training yesterday as he looked back on the Sarajevo game and ahead to the first leg of the Champions League second qualifying round double header against Nomme Kalju of Estonia at Parkhead tomorrow.

“I came off social media for a while. For my part and the club’s part. They wanted me to stay off and to try and not look at the negative stuff. Social media, as you well know, has kind of taken over a lot of people’s lives.

“There was a lot of negative stuff and bad things said about me that were so untrue it’s unbelievable. But if I’m off social media, my girlfriend is still on it, family members and friends are still on it. They will still pick up on it and will say to me ‘have you seen this?’

“So I’m going to see it. But I try not to focus too much on what’s been said about me. It’s not just bad stuff. It’s ridiculous. The worst thing I’ve read was that I was a massive drug addict and in a certain amount of debt. I actually started laughing.

“I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t just that, it was because my mum was reading it as well. She knows I would never go into drugs or be in debt. It was more hurtful for her because she was seeing it rather than me.

“I can take it. I’ve had stick all my life. It doesn’t bother me. But my mum is reading that online and is then being asked questions so it starts to put doubt in her mind. That was probably the worst.”

Griffiths added: “Also, my son watches videos on YouTube and he heard Rangers fans signing that I wouldn’t be playing football any more. I went up to see him one day and he asked me: ‘Dad, are you going to be back playing football?’ I said: ‘Of course I will. Why?’

“He said: ‘I was watching YouTube and I came across a video where people were singing that you won’t be playing football any more’. So I told his mum just to keep him off it as he’s going to do himself damage watching stuff like that.

“He watched the game last Wednesday and was probably more delighted than anybody to see me back on the pitch.”

Celtic will travel across Glasgow to face Rangers in just their fourth Ladbrokes Premiership game of the 2019/20 campaign at the beginning of September and Griffiths is hoping to be involved when they do. “It’ll be interesting to hear what they sing when that happens,” he said.

The chants of “here’s to you Leigh Griffiths, you’ll not be playing football any more” that a section of the Rangers fans belted out while he was sidelined didn’t adversely affect the forward. Still, he confessed that netting against Steven Gerrard’s men would be especially enjoyable.

“It’s rivalry and people sing about opposing players,” he said. “I’m just glad to have had minutes under my belt and, the more that happens, the less they’ll sing about me. But they can sing about me if they want. If they do that then they’re leaving someone else in our team alone so that doesn’t bother me.

“Would it make it sweeter to score against them this season? My record against them isn’t bad, to be fair, especially at Ibrox. It would be nice, but it doesn’t matter who I score against because every goal is sweet.”

The ovation that Celtic fans gave Griffiths when he replaced Odsonne Edouard against Sarajevo with 10 minutes remaining last week was far more to his liking. The forward is now hoping to build on the outing and start doing what he is renowned for – scoring goals.

“Wow!” he said. “The reception I got was incredible, probably the best reception I have ever heard. It is one I will never forget.

“From the minute that Brendan said I was taking time off the fans have been brilliant with me. They have been asking me when I was making my comeback. Wednesday night just typified it and showed how much this club is altogether.

“I am not going to lie, there were nerves. I have played in front of big crowds before. But making my comeback was special. The manager told me I had worked hard and deserved it and to go and show people that I am back and ready to do what I do. It was brilliant. I can’t wait for more.”