THERE are many words which have been used over the decades to describe footballers and their traits. 

Many of them not repeatable in a family newspaper such as this, the worst of them normally barked out on a cold night with a half-mouthful of scalding hot pie at an errant shot or pass. And that’s just from their own manager.

But the term schadenfreude is perhaps most appropriate when talking about Craig Gordon this season, and in particular the meeting of Celtic and Rangers on January 30. 

Read more: Think you've sussed Celtic out? Think again, says Craig Gordon

The German word, directly translated as ‘harm-joy’, means taking pleasure from the misfortunes of others. It perfectly sums up Gordon’s memories of two key moments in that 0-0 stalemate as he looked on at the glum faces around him. 

Two saves from the Celtic goalkeeper during the second half – one early on to acrobatically tip a James Tavernier shot over the bar and then to deny Alfredo Morelos from point-blank range – broke the hearts of the Rangers players who came within a glove of a landmark victory for over 
seven years. 

As a goalkeeper Gordon has never savoured the joy of banging in a last-minute winner, but speaking from the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders’ base in Dubai, the veteran explains savouring the anguish of a team he’s just thwarted is what keeps him going.

“That moment, where all the Rangers players were standing with their hands on their heads, is why you do this job,” said Gordon speaking of saving Morelos’ header from six yards. “That’s the one moment I remember.

“Things like that don’t happen all that often but to do something like that was great – it was a special save and one I enjoyed, coming in a game against Rangers. I saw some of the pictures afterwards and could see the disappointment on their faces.

Read more: Think you've sussed Celtic out? Think again, says Craig Gordon

“That’s the enjoyment part in football, for me. Maybe it’s a character flaw, enjoying seeing disappointment in what I do for a living, but it’s nice when it happens.

“I celebrated the save and I’ve done that a few times, when the emotion of the moment hits me. That save came at a time when it changed the game and was important so it felt like a big moment.

“I enjoyed it at that time and then switched back on to defend the corner. I’ve never scored a goal but I reckon it must be something close to that feeling. 

“That, for me, is like scoring a last-minute winner. I know goalkeepers tend not to celebrate saves but I just think there are times when the moment hits you.”

“A few of them [the Rangers players] said ‘well played,’ and mentioned the saves. 

“And they were happy with their draw so it was a good result for them. We wanted to win the game, especially being at home, but they were quite happy. 

“I think they felt they could have got the win but at the same time they were happy with their draw.

“So there were a few who said ‘well played,’ albeit nothing more than that!”

That draw back in December has been one of several matches this season which have brought criticism to Celtic. 

Not in terms of their defending, but more their bluntness in attack and the poor form of Scott Sinclair. In the eyes of manager Brendan Rodgers and his players, unfairly so. 

Read more: Think you've sussed Celtic out? Think again, says Craig Gordon

It’s true that at times Celtic have not looked quite at it in games like they have done during other moments this campaign, and for most of last term. And perhaps striving to reach those same levels, or the expectation to do so, has been their main obstacle this season. 

It’s worth remembering after December they have already racked up 38 games and a Betfred Cup while remaining in Europe after Christmas and earning an eight-point lead at the top of the table. 

“They are looking for perfection,” said Gordon, who has already notched up 20 clean sheets for Celtic this season. 

“I don’t think it exists. You could pick almost any goalkeeper in the world and you could pick a hole in them without any trouble at all. Nobody’s perfect.

“Every goalkeeper is going to lose bad goals or make bad decisions, it’s part parcel of playing in that position. 

“But if you can help the team out and you are capable of changing games and you can do the job that the manager is asking of you then that’s how you stay in the team and do the job for the team.

“You have to accept that that’s going to be part of it and we are there to be criticised. 

“I’ve taken my fair share but at the same time I can look back on this season and there are a big catalogue of saves that I’ve made in games that have been important to the team. 

“And that’s me doing my job. I’m happy with the way things are going in that department and I think this week will be vitally important in terms of the second half of the season. We’ve got a two week period now until we get back into games and we will be doing a lot of coaching sessions.”

Gordon believes some critics – perhaps even Chris Sutton who he recently accused of having an agenda against him – will go out their way to look for flaws.

Read more: Think you've sussed Celtic out? Think again, says Craig Gordon

“You could get bogged down in all the negativity. It’s hard to avoid. I’ve seen a fair bit of it but I try to keep away from it as much as possible. Even when you do well you get praise, and then there will be a line underneath it ‘but…he can’t do this, or he shouldn’t have done that’. 

“It’s people who want to look for things that aren’t quite right or flaws in anybody’s game. You could go through every footballer, there is not one player you couldn’t criticise or they aren’t good at something. 

“Messi doesn’t score many headers, you could slate him for that if you want! It’s stupid. 

“You could go to the best players in the world and there will be a part of their game that could be improved.”