Carl Starfelt reflected on the 6-0 Trophy Day win over Motherwell on Saturday and put that into the context of the beginning of his Celtic journey where he was thrown into the Celtic starting XI at Tynecastle on the opening day of the season just a day or so after arriving at the club and with just one training session under his belt.
He’d have been introduced to his new teammates but in all probability played in that 2-1 defeat to Hearts without knowing all his teammates names. So to go from there to heading over to Ibiza alongside Jota yesterday afternoon, a trip marred by the travelling hordes making their way to Seville, with the title winning medal safely in his possession – the first of his career alongside others like for instance Matt O’Riley – is simply remarkable.
And for Starfelt, who had to work hard to convince all of the Celtic support of his worth, this title triumph is only the beginning for this Celtic team built and led so magnificently by Ange Postecoglou. The Swedish international defender also has his eyes firmly set on the Champions League and Celtic’s automatic entry to the Group Stages is going to make plenty of players fancy taking up the opportunity if it’s offered to them in the transfer market this summer.
“For sure. I think this can just be the start. A lot of players made their first year in the Celtic jersey this time and, even though we came together pretty fast, I think many players will only get better,” Starfelt stated, as reported by Daily Record. “And then we have the Champions League to look forward to next season as well. We know that’s a very tough competition, so we have to improve. I think for sure that it’s possible. The demands at Celtic will always be so high and we will always strive to do so.
“You have to bring your best game in these matches. Also as a team you have to really perform. Playing in Europe this year with this team and this manager I think will be helpful for us going forward and playing these big European matches. I can’t wait for it.
“The home games especially will be absolutely amazing. You have to be at your very best. One foot wrong and anything can happen. I am looking forward to it.”
Starfelt also discussed the emotional send-offs for Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton after the pair both gave almost a decade of service to the club and received the thanks, love and appreciation of the entire Celtic family at the weekend. Starfelt certainly got an eye opener as to what it means to be Celtic and for him these were richly deserved tributes for both of his now former teammates.
“If you have been here nine years, then you are a bit of an example of what you need to show in every day training and showing up for games all the time. They were always coming in with good energy so of course it will be hard to replace them in many ways, but other guys have to step up and take their work.
If you didn’t already know the culture created within this group; then the reaction of the players to this told you it. Amazing.
They all went to Rogic, including Hart, with McGregor, Kyogo and Jota conducting the crowd to get huge send off for Rogic. pic.twitter.com/Jj47jhhZPw
— C (@CaIMcI) May 14, 2022
“I think the fans love both these guys and they showed it with the standing ovations they received. Fans have taken many other players to their hearts and, maybe, you don’t need to be here nine years for that to happen. But yes, of course, it’s nice to see.
“They are very good football players and, first and foremost, they are very good guys as well.
“We got very close to each other and we have the biggest respect for Tom and Nir for what they have done for this club for the last nine years or so. It was a moment that touched all of us and the fans and you could see on the faces of Tom and Nir that they were also very touched about leaving this great club. I’ve only played with them for one year. But it feels like we have become friends.”
If you don't shed a tear at this video then it's more than likely you are Priti Patel.
A distraught Nir Bitton, after spending 10 mins alone on the podium, savouring his final moments with Celtic, is consoled by Tosh McKinlay & others.
You'll be sorely missed, Nir. pic.twitter.com/WqdeolcaMB
— The Fast Lovin' Sin-Soaked Heathen (@fast_sin) May 15, 2022
On ending up the season with a Scottish Premiership winners medal around his neck after the turbulent starting point point last summer Starfelt reckons that even with those early narrow defeats at Tynecastle, Ibrox and Livingston the Celtic players never stopped believing.
“I don’t think I thought this far ahead to be honest. Of course I knew that when you come to Celtic you have the demands on you and the goal will always be to become the champions. Obviously, we had a bit of a rough start, but we always kept believing in ourselves and in the team. I think that makes it even better.
“Everyone doubted us, a lot of people didn’t think it would be possible for us to stand here as Champions, but here we are and it just makes it even better. The season has been absolutely incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better first year of my Celtic career.
“Obviously this was our goal all season. We knew it was going to be tough, but now we stand here as the best team in Scotland and champions. It has been an incredible journey and we have enjoyed every moment of it. Also it was very nice after putting in all this hard work all year to be able to celebrate it in style with the fans.
“You can see how much it means to all the Celtic fans. It really is the best feeling.”
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