OLI BURKE has never been happier than at the moment. He is loving his time at Celtic and the feeling is clearly mutual among the Celtic support.
“I’m happy to be enjoying my football again,” he said at the club’s media conference yesterday, ahead of tonight’s Europa League first leg match against Valencia at Celtic Park.
“I haven’t had that before because I’ve never had a run of games wherever I was playing.
“Since coming here I have done and that has given me a lot of confidence. I’ve been able to showcase what I can do and what I’m good at.
“You can only do that by getting minutes on the pitch and I’m really happy I’m getting that.
“At West Brom, I was feeling ten times the pressure because I wasn’t a regular and I knew I wasn’t the first name on the team sheet.
“But right now I’m in a good place. My confidence is high, I’m taking each game in my stride and I think it’s working.
“Coming here was good because I knew a few of the boys already and they helped me bed in.
“We have a really good chemistry just now and I feel on a real high,” the striker said.
Brendan Rodgers has made an immediate impact on Burke and has been able to get the best out of the player in a Celtic shirt.
“It’s a great feeling to have that. As a player, you want to be playing with confidence and to know the manager believes in you.
“Sometimes a manager can look at the negatives of your game a bit too much and overlook what you’re really good at.
“You have to look at yourself and what you can do. Then when the opportunity comes, you prove them wrong. I feel I’m doing that now.
“I’m learning a lot at Celtic. It’s one of the reasons I came to the club.
“I knew I would get great confidence from the manager and that he’d be a help to me, on and off the pitch. We have meetings about things and I’m learning a different style, playing as a striker.
“There’s a lot I need to take on board. I also need to learn about my new team-mates and how the team works together.”
Burke is also happy to talk up the game in Scotland, having played all his games previously in England and Germany, he feels that the quality of player on offer at Celtic is considerably under-rated, even in our own country.
“I sometimes think we have to look at ourselves and see how good we are as a team.
“Of course you have to look at the opposition, their formation and how they play. But it’s important to realise our own qualities as well.
“When you look at the Scottish boys at Celtic, they’re very much under-rated. Scottish football gets looked down upon, but I don’t know why.
“Some of the boys I’m playing beside at Celtic are better quality than those I played with in Germany or in the Premier League with West Brom.
“I can see it, but I guess everybody else has to watch us play to realise the quality in our team.
“Thursday night will be my first European game and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve heard that Celtic Park on these nights is very lively.
“I know it’s going to be a big occasion.
“The rest of the boys are playing it down to me at the minute, just trying to keep me focused on the game — but I am excited.”
Burke arrived from West Brom in January promising to be able to play anywhere across the front line for Celtic, but Brendan Rodgers seems determined to turn him into a Number 9.
“I’ll play anywhere, especially given the position I was in before.
“I came here as a winger but we discussed being a striker and it’s really worked.
“Learning a different position has definitely given me flexibility on the pitch. I knew I could play there and I’m pleased with how it’s gone so far.
“I get asked about my pace a lot but I don’t know where it comes from. You’d have to ask my Mum!
“I think it’s just in my genes — you either have it or you don’t. Luckily I have and it helps with my game.
“I see it as a big strength and it’s something I have to use because it benefits me and the team.”
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