Hakšabanović pretending to be Ronaldinho in Champions League dream

Sead Hakšabanović, probably like the rest of the Celtic players that Ange Postecoglou has brought to Celtic, has always had an eye on fulfilling a lifetime ambition of playing in the Champions League. That is going to be an increasingly important factor in future signings as the Australian manager sets about restoring Celtic’s place as a permanent fixture at the top table of European club competition, as is his goal.

For the Swedish born, Montenegro international forward, signing for Celtic has allowed his boyhood ambitions to be realised and he’s loving every minute of the experience. “It’s a dream just to play in the Champions League,” Sead Hakšabanović said, as reported in Scottish Sun. “As a kid, I watched the tournament on TV. When I was running around playing with my friends, I would be screaming about being in the Champions League.

Sead Hakšabanović in action against Real Madrid. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“Now I’m going to play in it. Who was I pretending to be back then? Ronaldinho. It’s just amazing, and my friends are really happy for me as well. It’s the biggest stage and where everyone wants to get to.”

Barcelona’s Brazilian Ronaldinho  vies with Celtic’s Neil Lennon and Chris Sutton during their Champions League  match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, 24 November 2004.  (Photo c LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)
Ronaldinho of Barcelona is challenged by Shunsuke Nakamura  and Stephen McManus of Celtic during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round First Leg match between Celtic and Barcelona at Celtic Park on February 20, 2008. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

(We’ll dropped in some additional Ronaldinho playing against Celtic photos at the end of this article for your interest).

Hakšabanović was well versed on what life at Celtic would be like ahead of signing from the club from Russian club Rubin Kazan as the 23 year old attacker has a close pal with strong Celtic connections, Henrik Larsson’s son, Jordan.

Sead Haksabanovic controls the ball past Spanish defender Dani Carvajal during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match between Celtic and Real Madrid, at the Celtic Park on September 6, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“I looked up to these guys a lot. Henrik’s son is my good friend so I know a lot about what he’s done here. I’ve seen clips of him, so I am going to do my best and see if I can achieve even ten per cent of what Henrik did,” Hakšabanović stated.

But he admitted that he didn’t get in touch with Jordan Larsson ahead of his move and explained why he resisted that temptation. “No, I didn’t, because I didn’t want anybody to know. But he messaged me when it was done and said, ‘We are happy for you, it’s a great club and they will take care of you. If you need anything, you can ask me’.”

Jordan Larsson of FC Schalke 04 is put under pressure by Marco Reus and Salih Ozcan of Borussia Dortmund during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park on September 17, 2022 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Hakšabanović was also aware that Jordan Larsson, who was a free agent in the summer after his contract with Spartak Moscow was terminated by mutual consent due to the problems in Russian football caused by the illegal military aggression against Ukraine. Celtic could have picked up a highly rated striker for free, yet decided against any move and Hakšabanović reckons that was probably for the best with his pal instead joining German side Schalke 04.

On the Jordan Larsson link to Celtic in the summer Hakšabanović said: “I have heard that but I think he would have to do too much if he came here. There would be too much pressure on him.”

Hakšabanović had one other Celtic connection and that’s with Freddie Ljungberg, one of those frustrating ‘last of the summer wine’ signings that seldom work out and thankfully are probably a thing of the past.  Yet Hakšabanović’s memories of the Arsenal legand are only postive ones.

“When I was around ten or 11, Freddie trained me in my home town. Everybody knew who he was but he didn’t know me. Henrik trained me, too. They had a coaching lesson and he came.”

Former Arsenal footballer, Fredrick Ljungberg of Sweden takes part in an interactive session with fans.  (Photo  Manjunath Kiran/AFP via Getty Images)

While Freddie Ljungberg had a successful time in English football, the same can’t really be said about Hakšabanović who seemed to be caught in the no man’s land between managers during his time at West Ham early in his career.

“It was a big move for me, but I didn’t go there thinking I would play every game, because I was still only 18, and coming from Sweden. But after Slaven Bilic got sacked, I didn’t get much game time. I played every game of pre-season under the new coach, but they were keen for me to go out on loan.

“It didn’t turn out so good for me at Malaga, either, as the manager there didn’t want me to play,” Hakšabanović recalled.

Celtic side for Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw. Photo: Beata Zawadzka/East News

Hakšabanović doesn’t seem to have that problem with Ange Postecoglou who brought him on against Real Madrid and he made an immediate impression. Hakšabanović then started in Warsaw on match-day two against Shakhtar Donetsk, playing the first 45 minutes. Next up is RB Leipzig tomorrow evening and will be looking to contribute to what could turn out to be a significant night for Celtic’s chances of making the knock-out rounds.


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

1 Comment

  1. Having watched him play for Celtic and Montenegro, the guys a real talent who could play any position middle to front comfortably.

    Celtic’s in for a treat when he’s fully fit