“It’s desperately sad,” Brendan Rodgers has his say on Abada exit from Celtic

“It’s desperately sad”, leaving Celtic “the best possibility”…

Brendan Rodgers yesterday gave his reaction to the departure of Liel Abada from Celtic. The 22 year-old Israeli winger felt unable to play for the club for a variety of off-the-field factors and a resolution to the matter was to allow Abada to leave to join MLS side Charlotte FC in £10m transfer deal.

“It’s desperately sad, the whole situation. A fantastic young player who came in here as a 19-year-old,” Brendan Rodgers said at yesterday’s media conference ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Cup quarter-final tie at Celtic Park against Livingston.

“A young man who came to another country and came and lit up the field with so many fantastic goals, having a really successful period here.

“Whatever doubts he had in the summer, he was really happy to commit. He signed a new deal and then now – through no fault of his own or the club’s – he has had to leave to take his career elsewhere,” Rodgers said.

Celtic v Aberdeen – Liel Abada and girlfriend Bar Rashti pose with the trophy after the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday May 27, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

The Celtic manager also revealed some details of his last meeting with Abada who came over to Rodgers’ home on Monday evening, before travelling to the States the next day. “I spoke to Liel on Monday evening, we had him in the house as I knew he was going to be travelling the next morning.

“Desperately sad, because I was looking forward to working with him over a period of time to see if we could improve and develop his game. If you look back, he’s created some wonderful memories here. I’m sure Celtic and Glasgow will have a big place in his heart and we wish him all the very best over in America.

“Coming from anywhere, it doesn’t matter where you come from. Clearly, coming from halfway across the world, the culture is different, and the food is different. Everything is different! Life, the intensity of football, and of course that can be a challenge. He dealt with that ever so well.

RB Leipzig’s defender David Raum vies wih Celtic’s Liel Abada during the UEFA Champions League match between Celtic and RB Leipzig, at the Celtic Park on October 11, 2022.(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“Every player is different, people expect these players to come in and adapt straight away, and some do. They have that adaption straight away. For others, it takes a little bit of time. For him, he’s done so well for the club, and now we’re desperately sad he’s left, because we’re losing a very good player, but we wish him all the very best in his future.

Rodgers was asked if there was ever a pathway for getting Abada back into his Celtic team and revealed that this was not the case. “Not really. It was just meetings and feelings, conversations that I’d had. It was difficult for him.

“He was training every day, and committed to his work. He’s a top professional. But just the situation with how it evolved and developed, it felt very difficult.

Liel Abada fights for the ball with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric during the UEFA Champions League 1st round day 6 Group F match between Real Madrid and Celtic at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on November 2, 2022.  (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

“Football is a game very much of the mind. If you’re not quite focused or you can’t put something aside, something as big as this here, then it becomes very difficult to be at your best. That sadly was the case for him.

“We spoke most days, just checking in and making sure he was okay, seeing him in his training. Ultimately he wants to play football, and when it got to the situation where I felt there was no chance or opportunity I think we both looked at it, and as a club as well, probably felt the best possibility would be for him to move on.

Brendan was asked if Liel Abada felt pressure from Israel and if that that one of the things holding him back from being able to play for Celtic. “It was clearly a situation that, like he said, was unplanned. Wherever it comes from, there were multiple reasons for him not to be in that frame of mind. It’s done now. He’s moved on. He had a great two-and-a-half years here. He did very well and we have to move on.”

Motherwell v Celtic – Premier Sports Cup – Quarter Final – Fir Park Liel Abada celebrates scoring the first goal on Wednesday October 19, 2022. Photo Jane Barlow

Rodgers accepts that in footballing terms Abada is a massive loss to Celtic. “Absolutely. He’s really only at the beginning of what I would call the ‘asset age’ – between 22 and 29 years of age. That’s where you want to grow and develop, then find yourself at the top of your game.

“He was 22, so he’d just begun that really. It’s desperately sad that we haven’t been able to see him here for longer because I feel he will grow and develop. He’s got a natural instinct to score goals. He’s really a striker who plays wide. You look at his movement, you look at his intuition in the box to get goals and of course, any team will always want that.”

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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