‘My debt to Brendan Rodgers,’ World Cup star

DEDRYCK BOYATA has credited Brendan Rodgers will making the difference in his career that has seen him rise from an out of favour player at Celtic to a Belgium World Cup star over a period of a season and a half.

Boyata picked up an injury in THAT semi-final defeat at Hampden and then sat out the first six months of the Rodgers Revolution at Celtic. But the new manager had taken time to speak in detail to the player and to tell him what he had to do to get back into the team and get his career back on track.

One appearance against Kilmarnock in November was then followed by a re-introduction to the Invincible side just after the winter break in a Scottish Cup tie in Airdrie against Albion Rovers. And since then Boyata has never looked back.

He has won back to back trebles at Celtic and has played in the World Cup for Belgian. He dropped out of the side the other night to make way for the supposedly fit again Vincent Company but that move almost backfired on manager Roberto Martinez as Japan raced into a shock 2-0 lead early in the second half. The Belgians woke up though and in a thrilling match won 3-2 to progress to the last 8.

Boyata though was having a look back and recognises the importance of Brendan Rodgers in helping him achieve what he as over this remarkable 18 months for the player.

“I was making mistakes at Celtic initially and had problems concentrating.

“Then along came Brendan Rodgers and he listed a number of things I had to improve.

“I had to defend from the front, stop misplacing passes – not even in training. He wanted my fitness to improve and he wanted me to increase my concentration.

“I got back into the side and I like to think I have carried my form on to the World Cup.”

Boyata, at 27 and with a year remaining in his Celtic contract, has been linked with a move to Lazio. Plenty of other admirers will have noted his displays in Russia. However before leaving for Russia, the player stated that he planned to sign a new deal at Celtic when he returned to the club after the summer – at that stage he wasn’t even sure he would make the cut for the Belgian World Cup squad.

Boyata will be in Russia for a while yet – he could even go all the way, then he will have two weeks holiday before returning to Celtic.

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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