LEADERSHIP is often best displayed through actions, rather than words. It is a mantra that has exemplified the Callum McGregor captaincy of Celtic to date, and why Ange Postecoglou saw a natural born leader of his team in the midfielder where others had doubts.

Following Scott Brown was never going to be an easy task, but it was in a moment of personal adversity against Ferencvaros earlier this week that McGregor reaffirmed to Postecoglou that he was the only man for the job.

Having stepped up to take a penalty at a crucial juncture of the game, and then having that penalty saved, there are some players who may have gone into hiding. Not McGregor. The way he puffed out his chest and continued to demand the ball was exactly the reaction Postecoglou expected from his skipper.

“They come in different forms,” Postecoglou said. “He’s probably not the typical, but the biggest thing you look for in leaders is ‘do people want to follow him?’ Do his actions match his words, does his behaviour match his demands for standards? And he does that.

“He lives and breathes football, he lives and breathes this football club.

“He took the penalty [against Ferencvaros]. That’s his job. He missed it but then he was back up looking for the ball again. That’s leadership for me.

“It’s not just being the best player or waving your arms about. Not that that’s not important. His words are very strong to the team before a game and at half-time. He’s dead set on making this club successful again.

“He’ll get better at it and grow into it but I think I saw that early on, that he’ll be a good leader for us.”

Now on the other side of the injury that deprived him of McGregor for a difficult few weeks, Postecoglou is happy to acknowledge just how much he was missed, particularly with the team still in a transitional phase.

“No doubt,” he said. “I had to be careful. I said through that period that we needed to show resilience, but there’s no doubt we missed Cal.

“Any team would miss their leader, their skipper, and he’s such a fantastic player apart from that.

“He dictates the tempo out there, he drives the boys with his actions and his words.

“He’s an outstanding leader and I know he will become an even better leader as he grows into the role. He’s definitely an important part of it, like any leader would be in any team.

“No-one’s irreplaceable, but when you lose influential players like we did during the last period, it’s going to take a toll on a brand new team. It wasn’t like we had ready-made leaders to step up.”

As Postecoglou references, it wasn’t only his leadership qualities that were conspicuous by their absence during his spell out of the side, but also his ability as a player, which he ranks among the best he has witnessed.

“He’s up there…with the ones I’ve worked with anyway,” he said. “Because what you look for are players in the tightest of areas - and he plays in that area - who always want the ball, are always looking, always trying to dictate the game.

“The way we want to play, that’s really important in the middle. He rarely gives the ball away. Nine times out of ten he makes the best decision in terms of the pass.

“There are plenty of passes you can make, options you can take, but invariably he always makes the right pass. And he works his socks off.

“So, he is a good player, a fantastic player, but again, he is one that I think can improve.”