GOALKEEPERS are notorious for fancying themselves as outfield players, but as the role has evolved to a stage where being comfortable in possession is just as important as your ability to keep the ball out of the net, there is no hiding place if you aren’t proficient with the ball at your feet.

That is even more apparent when you are a keeper at a big club, where domination of the ball means a goalkeeper is expected to be the catalyst for attacks and an extra man when possession is being rotated. That is fact not lost on Scott Bain, who has edged out Craig Gordon as Celtic number one in part by excelling at that side of his game.

While he may look like a natural when making and receiving passes from teammates though, he has had to work at it. That is a process which is ongoing, as Bain revealed he studies some of the world’s top goalkeepers – such as Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen – to hone his abilities.

“I do a bit of work with Woodsy [Celtic goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods] on watching goalkeepers that play in the same fashion as us that are maybe the same build as me so I can get an idea of what I need to get to get to the highest level,” Bain said.

“We were watching videos on ter Stegen at Barcelona this morning in terms of how he plays from the back, how calm and precise he is on the ball. [That’s] on a different level, it’s Barcelona. But in a lot of the games he’s not having much to do apart from picking passes and the right moment to pick it short and long with the odd big save in there as well.

“He’s probably one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world right now, so it’s good to watch him and get an idea of the pictures he sees on the pitch.

“On a different scale, it’s the same challenge I face. It’s good to watch just to see if we can emulate it in any sort of way in terms of getting out of presses and where we should be at certain times.

“If you can take some of that and bring it into your game, it’s obviously going to benefit you.

“Football is changing. A lot more teams are trying to play in that way. If I pass the ball to my player, he receives it 100 per cent of the time. If I kick it to the halfway line it’s a 50/50 straight away. You don’t know who is going to win the ball.

“Keeping the ball allows us to rest in the game so we can have more energy to penetrate and attack in the important positions.”

When Bain took the gloves for the League Cup final win over Aberdeen in December, he did so as the designated ‘cup keeper’, but he goes into tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final against the same opposition as the firm first-choice between the sticks for Celtic.

And if that isn’t enough to remind his 36-year-old colleague Gordon of his advancing years as he plays second fiddle to his younger teammate, the revelation that he was a role model for Bain as a kid should certainly do it.

“Being an Edinburgh lad, I watched a lot of Craigy,” he said. “Hopefully that will make him feel really old!

“Craig went for £9m when I was a young lad watching him with Hearts. I can remember his performance against Bordeaux, he was unbelievable.

“He won Save of the Century with Sunderland in the Premiership. He was obviously a big influence on me.

“I do like to remind him of his age sometimes though. One time I said he was 37 and he nearly went for me! He wasn’t happy!

“For me, it’s important to working with him every day and pushing me.”

Bain is coming to terms with the demands of playing for Celtic, and he admits he didn’t realise how hard it is to maintain their relentless momentum until he was on the inside.

“What these boys have achieved in the past is special,” he said. “It’s not normal to go through seasons unbeaten and to win everything.

“I now know how difficult it is to be in this environment.”