JIM GOODWIN left Celtic, in May 2002, broken- hearted at leaving his beloved Bhoys and at the thought of never realising his long-held dream of playing at Hampden in the Hoops.

After plying his trade in the English game for seven years with Stockport, Huddersfield and Oldham, the St Mirren skipper returned to the Scottish game with Hamilton, before signing for the Paisley club five months later, in January 2011.

Tomorrow, almost 11 years later, the 31-year-old will lead Saints out at the field of his dreams in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final against his former club.

And he admits his long and winding road to Mount Florida means he is determined to savour every moment and do everything he can to write a glorious chapter in the Buddies history books.

Goodwin said: "When I left Celtic back in 2002 it was a horrible moment. You think after you leave a club like Celtic what next?

" I had my dreams and one of them was to play at Hampden and after seven years down south, I thought that one was well and truly gone.

"But football is a funny game and it may have taken me a while to get here, but now I have the chance to lead St Mirren out in one of their biggest games in recent seasons at Hampden – and it turns out to be against Celtic.

"So for me this is a huge moment, but it is not a case of now we are here at Hampden that is it, we are here to win."

If Saints are to succeed then they will have to overturn a well- documented eight-game losing streak against the Hoops that has also seen them concede 22 goals without reply.

But then every underdog has its day and it could be that tomorrow is the right time and the right place for the stars to align for the Paisley men.

Goodwin has been deployed in a centre-back partnership with Marc McAusland of late at the heart of the Buddies backline, but the talk in the Paisley camp is of a more positive approach than the pragmatic damage limitation attempt at Parkhead, in December, the last time the two sides met.

So it looks likely the Saints skipper could revert to his favoured midfield sitting role, where his leadership qualities can be brought to best effect in a uncompromising battle with Hoops skipper Scott Brown.

While the former Republic of Ireland international's ability to add a layer of extra armoured plate in front of the Saints defence, break up Celtic attacks and ping his diagonal balls to the likes of Gary Teale, should see Goodwin making a pivotal contribution in a key area. But he said: "Defensively we will need to be rock solid tomorrow. At the same time we have got to be positive and show ambition.

"This is a huge moment for the club and the St Mirren support and we want them to see their side giving it everything to try and win this semi and make the final.

"It maybe a well-worn football cliche, but it is 11 versus 11 at the end of the day.

"And if pretty much everyone of our lads is at his best and Celtic have a few players who don't quite deliver, we know we have a chance."