‘I picked up a Danish flag and tied it around my waist. I had dreamt of this day since childhood,’ Erik Sviatchenko

CELTIC author Matt Corr has been speaking to former Hoops hero Erik Sviatchenko and we will feature the exclusive interview every evening this week. This started last night and you can catch up with what Erik had to say below. Here’s how things got started between the Danish defender and the Celtic Tour Guide and well-known contributor to The Celtic Star…

Erik Sviatchenko signed for Celtic on January 2016 when Ronny Deila spent £1.5m to bring in the rugged central defender from Midtjylland.  There was a change of manager that summer at Celtic when the Norwegian was replaced by the former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

Some supporters believe that Erik  was simply not a Brendan Rodgers type player, but as the Celtic Wiki points out, he still managed a wealth of games under him. Celtic continued to have centre-half problems throughout the 2017-18 season, and even whilst away there were the odd call from some that he should return and was better than the incumbents. Few were convinced this was a solution. The Celtic Wiki continued…

“He played a good role in the wonderful treble winning Invincible season that saw Celtic go undefeated domestically. For that he deserves much respect. He came and integrated very well socially with the supporters, a much welcome sight. There were also plenty who wished he could have stayed for longer. We hope him the best. A likeable, affable character and a fair player too.”

Moving on to the second part of Matt’s interview with Erik Sviatchenko…

Erik Sviatchenko interview with Matt Corr – Part 2

Matt Corr –  Am I right in saying that you passed up the opportunity to play in European football for Midtjylland against Manchester United to join Celtic?

Erik Sviatchenko – Yes. That’s true. We were on holiday in Dubai when the draw was made. I was thinking even at that time that I would probably not have played, as there was already interest from Celtic and I was looking to play at a different level.

Matt Corr – I seem to recall that Midtjylland won the home leg?

Erik Sviatchenko – We did (laughs). I mean they did. It was 2-1 in Denmark. I was delighted. They have amazing fans at Midtjylland, just not the big numbers. We lost over two legs, sadly. It was 5-1 at Old Trafford.

Matt Corr – You signed for the club in January 2016 and were thrown in at the deep end, coming off the bench at Hampden for your debut in the League Cup semi-final against Ross County, with Celtic reduced to ten men after the dismissal of Efe Ambrose. What are your own memories of that occasion?

Erik Sviatchenko – The word ‘ambivalent’ springs to mind but overall it was an amazing feeling. Many players have to wait six months to make their debuts. They train. They get ready. I had had a break of four weeks and so it was a good feeling to be thrown into the game, although it was a terrible feeling at the end.

Having to deal with such a disappointing result. Scott Brown stood up and made it clear that this was a big embarrassment. It gave me a taste of what to expect, that this cannot happen. We have to be much better.

Personally, I felt I had played well, so, strangely, it should have been a joyful moment for me personally, however, the result meant that it would be a horrible night for our supporters so that was more important.

Matt Corr – Do you recall scoring your first goal for Celtic? The match involved, the goal itself and how it felt when the ball hit the net?

Erik Sviatchenko – It was very similar to my debut. Again, it was at Hampden and I had that same feeling, coming on for Dedryk (Boyata) after 25/30 minutes. Kenny Miller had already scored. I remember thinking, ‘This is quite surreal. This is a historical, legendary game, one of the biggest games in Europe and perhaps in the top ten in the world.’

In terms of the goal…I still get goosebumps. I rose and I met it, like a ‘hammer with the head.’ It went in like a shot. I jumped five metres up into the air and ran towards the supporters. It was such an intense, emotional feeling.

I had joined the list of names, the Celtic greats, who had scored in this fixture. At the end, just like my debut, there was that weird thing. That this was such a big moment for me but we had lost. The only sad thing was that we could have won the game. The next time we played them, we were under new management and we showed that we were far better.

It was that magical 5-1 game.

Matt Corr – You lived every Celtic supporter’s dream, Erik, by coming on at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen, as we closed in on an unprecedented INVINCIBLE Treble. Can you explain how you felt coming onto the pitch and your emotions as you walked around the stadium at the end?

Erik Sviatchenko – It’s funny when you think about that time. You get those feelings again. That amazing thing. The feeling of having done something which had never been done before.

Being on the bench for the Scottish Cup final was one thing. But coming on to the Hampden pitch… And then that feeling of joy at the end. Of professional pride. We never spoke about an INVINCIBLE Treble. Never.

Brendan Rodgers presented slideshows where we were given ‘goals to achieve’ but we never spoke about that. It was an incredible feeling, at the end. Taking it in with my teammates as we walked around the stadium. Feeling it. The same as the fans. I picked up a Danish flag and tied it around my waist. I had dreamt of this day since childhood.

Wearing my national flag in a foreign country, on such a special occasion. Living the dream.

Matt Corr’s interview with Erik Sviatchenko will continue on The Celtic Star tomorrow evening.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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