Celtic hat-trick hero Thomas Gravesen insists manager Gordon Strachan has done what Real Madrid failed to do and recognised him as an attacking midfielder.
The former Everton player, still widely regarded as a holding midfielder, scored the first triple of his career in a 3-1 win over St Mirren at Love Street to stretch the Parkhead side’s lead over Rangers at the top of the Bank of Scotland Premier League to 15 points.
The Dane, who joined the champions in the summer from the Spanish giants, scored with both feet in the first half, and a header after the break rendered John Sutton’s goal no more than a consolation for the Saints.
Afterwards Gravesen said: “I’ve never scored a hat-trick before – it has taken me 30 years. They thought I was a holding midfielder in Real Madrid as well, but that’s wrong.
“I played my best football when I was at Everton, when I was further forward. The manager uses me a little bit of both ways here and that suits me very well.
“I do enjoy getting forward and this team gives the me the licence to do that. It’s very nice to score goals but it’s very important that we win the game.
“This was our 10th win in the SPL and with the injuries we have had it’s a fantastic run for the team.”
Strachan was pleased with Gravesen’s contribution but admits three goals from the Dane surprised even him.
He said: “You are not expecting hat-tricks from a midfield player, but he wasn’t the sitting midfield player that many claimed he was.
“I think he proved that at Real Madrid, he wasn’t comfortable with that but we knew he could create. He turns up in some incredible positions that you have never really planned but he has the ability.
“I asked him what he thought he was doing after a run in the second half but he said he didn’t have a clue. He said he stopped twice to think and it wasn’t a good idea but it was good that he scored the hat-trick.”
St Mirren boss Gus MacPherson insists the defeat will not deter the Saints from their pre-season target of top-flight survival.
He said: “We said we would take second-bottom place at the start of the season.
“We’ve said all along how difficult it is going to be in this division but, 14 games in, we have shown that we can compete at this level, although we’re very respectful of the opposition and the standard of players we are playing against.
“But we have a group of players in there who are hurting and I’m sure there will be a reaction.”