JAMES FORREST isn’t one for blowing his own trumpet. And when you have the likes of Bobby Lennox lining up to sing your praises on your behalf, perhaps that is understandable.

Forrest joined Lennox as one of only five men in Celtic’s history to have won nine consecutive league titles while playing for the club. The others? Billy McNeill, Jimmy Johnstone, and his current Celtic teammate and captain, Scott Brown.

That Forrest deserves his place among such names is something he will leave for others to determine, but the legendary Lisbon Lion Lennox stepped forward yesterday to assure the unassuming winger that he would have more than given Johnstone – the player voted the greatest Celt of them all – a run for his money. And maybe even have challenged him for a place in the team, had he been about in those days.

Coming from Lennox, Forrest will certainly take that.

“Of course, it’s really good when you hear positive stuff from people that you are playing with or managers and players from the past,” Forrest said. “Every player would say the same.

“Hearing something like from Bobby Lennox is obviously good for your confidence. It shows you are doing something right.

“It’s quite humbling and I think my family will feel really good about it, but you don’t want to just rest. You can’t think: ‘Oh someone has said this about me, so I don’t need to work as hard now.’ You have to keep the head down and push again.

“But, of course, when you hear something like that said about you by someone like Bobby Lennox, it’s far better than hearing someone say something negative about you, that’s for definite.”

Forrest hasn’t always been the darling of the Celtic crowd, but surely even his biggest doubters among the club’s support have been won over by the consistently high levels of performance the 28-year-old has churned out over the past few trophy-laden seasons.

As well as pocketing 19 medals over the course of his Celtic career, the last few seasons have seen him mature into a player who offers a serious and reliable goal threat to complement his ability to tee up his teammates.

He followed up his clean sweep of the player of the year awards last summer with another stellar campaign, hitting 16 goals in all competitions before the season was cut short, a testament to his constant quest for improvement.

“In the last couple of seasons, I feel as though I have kicked on,” he said.

“Last season was good with I feel the way things were going this again with goals and assists, it was going to be strong again.

“I thought I might have been on my way to better the numbers from the year before and that was good because that's what you need to do. Celtic get stronger and you need to keep improving, so you need to keep pushing forward to do well there and then the opposition gets stronger every year, so you need to keep dealing with that as well. Always up your game.

“It’s easier said than done, but I did feel it was a strong season and I did quite well.

“You don’t really focus at the beginning and set a target of: ‘Oh, I want a really good season this year.’ You just get into it with the big games coming early with the qualifiers and you take it game by game. All of a sudden, there’s 10 games left. That’s the best way to go about it.”

It seems as though Forrest has been around the Scottish football scene forever, although he has hardly changed in terms of his baby-faced appearance since scoring on his debut as a substitute against Motherwell way back in 2010.

Despite the greater recognition of his importance to Celtic in recent years, might it be that he falls into the category of player who is only widely and truly appreciated once he has hung up his boots?

Certainly, from Forrest’s perspective, he feels that even he may not truly recognise what he has achieved until he has pulled on the Hoops for the final time. The time for looking back will come he says, but for now, he is only looking forward.

“When you are playing, you don’t think about things like medal tallies or anything,” he said.

“But it can be nice when you hear about later and realise that you have done it.

“As you are involved in it, it’s about playing as much as you can and keeping standards up to be as successful as possible.

“Maybe when my career is finished, I can think more about it. But you can’t think too much about it now. You have to keep setting targets.”