Dylan McGeouch freely admits he’s unlikely to be running the length of the pitch, beating several players and scoring that kind of goal at Carlisle United. The memory is nearly 12 years old now and McGeough is not an 18-year-old sprite any more.

As he settles into life at Brunton Park, though – a time when he will hopefully add some canny midfield control to their League One team – it remains an unshakeable part of his past.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way. It came on McGeouch’s home debut for Celtic, in the second half of a Scottish Premiership game against St Mirren.

He had been on the pitch eight minutes after replacing James Forrest. Then, after collecting the ball close to his own penalty area, he carried it up the pitch in unstoppable style before capping a run of 70+ yards with a finish.

It was a remarkable introduction and catapulted McGeouch, who grew up in Glasgow’s Milton housing scheme, into the Parkhead limelight.

“It was one of those moments where your life kind of changes, literally in the space of 15-20 minutes,” McGeouch says.

“I came on as a sub, and went from a little kid from the schemes nobody knows to breaking on and scoring that goal in front of a home crowd in my first game.

“Before you know it people start talking about that little kid that scored the goal.

“That was the start of it for me in Glasgow. It was great. From being with my family, going to the games when I was younger, and one day stepping onto the pitch and doing that…it’s something I’ll always remember. Great times.”

McGeouch does not dwell too much on the fact that such a goal would always be difficult to live up to. It was one of two he scored for Celtic before his career took different roads, via Coventry City, Hibernian, Sunderland, Aberdeen, Forest Green Rovers and now Carlisle.

“My first ever senior goal, and probably my best ever senior goal,” he says. “It doesn’t get any better than that. It was a great memory.

News and Star: McGeouch is congratulated by Celtic boss Neil Lennon after his wonder goal in 2011McGeouch is congratulated by Celtic boss Neil Lennon after his wonder goal in 2011 (Image: PA)

“The fans thought I was gonna do that every week which obviously wasn’t going to be the case…

“It was one of those where adrenaline just takes you through. It’s something I always remember. But I don’t think I’ll be scoring many goals like that again…”

Carlisle won’t mind that provided McGeouch’s other qualities are to the fore in 2023/24. The 30-year-old has also spoken about his eagnerness to pass on the benefits of his experience to United’s young players, and in this he also brings his past to the fore.

McGeouch had significant mentors in those bright young days at Celtic. “It seems like yesterday that I was coming through. I had Scott Brown, captain of the club and captain of Scotland, Charlie Mulgrew…just top, top players, international players.

“It was great for me learning off them every day, coming through, having those morals and work ethic. Players like Scott Brown, at the top of their career, were the hardest trainers every day.

“I’ve had that through my career, where I’ve always tried to work hard every day. Even though you might not be playing every week, you can still work as hard as you can, try to work harder than everybody else.

News and Star: McGeouch will face old mentor Scott Brown on the opening day of 2023/24 when Carlisle take on FleetwoodMcGeouch will face old mentor Scott Brown on the opening day of 2023/24 when Carlisle take on Fleetwood (Image: PA)

“Hopefully I can give that back to the young boys. It’s good experience that’s stuck with me, and hopefully this season they can see guys like me working hard, putting the effort in, doing everything properly, and they can learn off that going forward.”

A quirk of the fixture list pits McGeouch against his old mentor on day one. Carlisle host Brown’s Fleetwood Town on the opening day of the season.

McGeouch smiles. “I played against his team last year…it’s a funny feeling, to be honest. I came through Celtic with him as my captain, then had a little spell at Aberdeen as a team-mate as well.

“He’s doing well in management, and after last year’s game we had a five minute catch up after the game.”

McGeouch’s career also includes the significance of two full international caps for Scotland in 2018, dating back to his time at Hibs when he and John McGinn were Easter Road stars. A couple of years earlier he lifted the Scottish Cup with the Edinburgh side, but now his priority is to help Carlisle step up to England’s third tier.

News and Star: McGeouch played at various age group levels for Scotland and also earned two senior capsMcGeouch played at various age group levels for Scotland and also earned two senior caps (Image: PA)

The midfielder experienced League One with Forest Green Rovers last season, when he was voted their player of the year by fans despite only signing in November. It proved a bittersweet accolade given their relegation, but it gives McGeouch very recent knowledge of the level Carlisle are now taking on.

“The boys had success last year, so it’s just about having your own identity in this league,” he says of the step up. “Obviously it’s going to be tougher, and there will be a lot more challenges, but [you have to] be yourselves as well.

“Hopefully adding a few new faces will help that and challenge each other daily with competition for places – it can only drive the club forward.

“I don’t think we can go into games this season fearing other teams in the league. We respect the teams but have to play our own game. We had success last year and need to build on that. We know we’re a good team and squad. If we can apply ourselves properly we can be a match for most teams in the league.”

McGeouch says he has settled in quickly at Carlisle, whose squad includes a former team-mate in Ryan Edmondson, with whom he played at Aberdeen. His early involvement in friendlies has helped the bedding-in process and McGeouch wants this latest step in his career to be an individual and collective success.

News and Star: McGeouch starred at Hibs before spells at Sunderland, Aberdeen and Forest GreenMcGeouch starred at Hibs before spells at Sunderland, Aberdeen and Forest Green (Image: PA)

“Just playing regularly and enjoying my football,” he says, asked for his personal aims. “I’ve had success at a couple of clubs, won silverware, and the boys tasted that last year. You don’t always get it so you need to enjoy it.

“You can feel the buzz in the fans here from what was achieved last year. I want to be part of that, those good times, and enjoy my football, and personally, with performances I can turn in week in, week out, and as a team, we can achieve things.

“That’s the best thing in football – when you’re playing well, in a team, and you’re enjoying it with your team-mates, and the fans are enjoying it, there’s no feeling like it.

“I’m biased but it’s probably the best job in the world, if you’re enjoying your football day in, day out, getting performances and results.”

McGeouch talks in a measured and optimistic way about making this move. He stresses he joined Carlisle for football reasons rather than as a priority for heading back north. The chance to see more of his family is a plus but the challenge on the pitch is foremost in his mind.

“I feel settled to be honest, I feel like I’ve been here longer than a week,” he adds. “The boys have been great, I’ve been seeing them for coffees after training, getting to know them, and the more time on the training pitch helps us get to know their games.”

News and Star: McGeouch in action for United at Workington on SaturdayMcGeouch in action for United at Workington on Saturday (Image: Barbara Abbott)

This week, when United are training at the University of St Andrews, also helps in this respect. “It’s great to just get away, get the work done, get a couple of sessions in, a game, and the bonding about the place, get to know each other a bit more, get to know their faces, get the hard work done and the games take care of themselves.

“Then we get back into Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday games, building up for the start of the season.

“I want to come here and do well, give performances the fans will be proud of week-in and week-out, and build on that momentum last year. I’m coming into a good environment, where everyone’s buzzing to get going and can’t wait for the first game. I’m really looking forward to it.”