“Champions League is a dream come true for me,” Liel Abada

Liel Abada spoke to Celtic TV today and the Israeli winger was confident enough to contact the interview in English, a year after arriving at Celtic unable to speak a word of the language. He was fortunate at that time to have countryman Nir Bitton already at Celtic having made a similar move as a young player almost a decade before.

Bitton, like Tom Rogic, were looking for a Celtic exit that summer but the arrival of Ange Postecoglou convinced the two experienced players to stay on and assist the Australian in successfully establishing himself at the club after arriving at a time of chaos after Eddie Howe had decided against taking the job and a shambolic season when just about nothing went right for the club, including decision making at the highest level.

“When I first came to Celtic I didn’t speak English, I had a teacher and he would help me whenever I needed help,” Ababa explained to Celtic TV, in English. And his appreciation for what Bitton did for him, and by a logical extension for Celtic, cannot be underestimated.

IMAGO / PA Images

“I think Niro… he’s like a big brother for me,” Abada said. “I can speak with him about everything. He helped me a lot here last season with everything. Now we speak a lot also on Facetime. I wish him all the best and all of the family. I really love him, and I miss him.”

Ange Postecoglou sanctioned the £3.5m purchase of the talented youngster but even he must have been surprised and delighted by the huge impact that Abada made in that memorable season, scoring 15 goals – some hugely significant in the turning of the tide in Celtic’s favour – and chipping in with assists throughout the season.

The Israeli international winger is full of praise for the Celtic manager. “The manager has been big for me because he gave me confidence last year and hopefully this season I can improve,’ he said.

Liel Abada celebrates scoring his gaol. Photo Jeff Holmes

On his own personal targets for year 2 at Celtic, Abada remained coy buy did hint that he’d let us know at the end of the season if his own objectives for the season have been met. One incidentally is to win every game, that would be nice, Liel, on yourself son!

“I have targets for goals and assists but I want to keep that to myself, maybe ask me at the end of the season and I will tell you if I reached them,” he said. “Hopefully I get a lot of goals and assists for the club and help the team this year.”

On his top strike last term two immediately spring to mind for the Celtic support and for the player as well. “I think I have two favourite goals from last season – one against Dundee United and one against (the)Rangers.

“If you ask me what’s better it’s a difficult question but the goal against Dundee United was so important as we played (the)Rangers after as well.”

A huge selling point for Celtic is the automatic place in the Group stages of the Champions League, the reward for winning the title last season. And we only had to look at the Premier Sports action from Tuesday night to see how significant that is.

“Getting to play in the Champions League is a dream come true for me,” Abada admitted.

“When I started playing football I saw it on the TV and watched the best players in it, so this is a good opportunity for us to bring our football to that stage and hopefully we will have some good games.”

Celtic incidentally will benefit financially if we are the only Scottish side in the Champions League this season so that result in Belgium suited us down to the ground. Even if they manage to overturn that 2-0 scoreline in the second leg they’ve still to get past either PSV or Monaco so there might well be a decent windfall coming Celtic’s way.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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