With only a few players in the current squad having experienced the sparkling atmosphere of playing in a champions league match for the hoops at Celtic Park, the vast majority of the team will have a lot to take in even before a ball is kicked at 8pm on Tuesday night. The legendary crescendo that welcomes and then drowns out the Champions League anthem has been sadly missing from the east end of Glasgow in recent years, but the opportunity to rekindle those breath-taking nights are back with Real Madrid the visitors to Celtic Park for the first group match of the campaign.
Speaking to Matt at the Champions League pre-match press conference, I asked him what his message to the sell out crowd would be, “just do what you always do. The louder the fans are, the easier it is for the team to impose themselves in the game. When the crowd get going, momentum can shift. If the fans can repeat the atmosphere from the derby win, we’ll be in a good place”
Like so many of his teammates Matt O’Riley will be making his debut in Europe’s premier club competition. The Danish under 21s internationalist has made the seamless transition from English league one side Milton Keynes Dons to become an integral part of the Ange Postecoglou revolution.
The chance to play in the champions league is a dream come true for the midfielder and he is excited to get going under the lights in Paradise. Echoing the sentiments from the manager O’Riley is focused on maintaining the style of play that has served the club so well domestically recently. Although, there is a recognition that we will need to be at our very best to get something from the match.
There is a belief building amongst this group of players that anything is possible. Where the desire to work closely with the manager and produce the performance that he pushes for every day is now second nature. When you listen to the players and manager speaking there is a genuine unity in the group – a collaborative expression of fast flowing football and it’s easy to see why our players buy into the ethos of the manager.
When the referee blows his whistle to start the match, the talking will stop and it will be time for the players to execute the plan worked on the training field, pick up 3 points and impose ourselves on the biggest of stages. The eyes of world football will be on them and with 60 thousand fans behind the team, anything is possible.
Martin Donaldson is a Glasgow East End Bhoy, He made my first trip to Celtic Park in 1983 for a 0-0 draw with Brechin City & thankfully that never put him off going back. He now sits perched high in section 409 of the North Stand with his 2 kids making memories along the Celtic Way.
He loves picking out those matches from yester-year to find out much more about the legendary names & faces that have graced the Celtic Jersey over the years. He is a keen fundraiser for The Celtic Foundation & The British Heart Foundation as they both strive to make a difference and to change peoples lives all over the world.