Filip Benkovic spent season 2018/19 on loan at Celtic, where he became a treble winner and had the opportunity to ply his trade in Europe.
In an interview with Football Scotland, the defender said: “Every person who asks me about my time there (Celtic), I will say that it’s probably the best year of my football career so far.”
“Since the first day at Celtic, I could see how big the club is and everything around the club, the dressing room, everything. It was first class.
“The Treble has to be the highlight, and the sugar on the cake. It’s an honour to be part of that historic result for the club. Sometimes I cannot explain how much I enjoyed being at that club. It was an incredible achievement. It’s a special memory in my career.”
Benkovic was a great coup for Celtic, as he had just signed for Leicester for £13m at the time. He was a solid performer, though plagued by injury at times.
While in the Hoops, he got to experience some great European nights, Derby days and Cup finals – the type of atmospheres which can seldom be found elsewhere in Europe.
“That was the best (atmosphere) I experienced,” he said when talking about the night he helped Celtic overcome RB Leipzig. He continued: “60,000 people, especially on a European night, it’s extra special. You get those goosebumps once you step on the pitch.
“Before the match when you are in the tunnel, it makes you so motivated. You think in your head, this is why you play football. You’ll Never Walk Alone before the game, it’s unbelievable.”
Despite many fans hoping he may extend his stay in Glasgow, Benkovic returned to Leicester where his Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers had taken the role as Manager. Things didn’t quite work out as he imagined though.
“When he (Rodgers) left for Leicester, in my mind it was good because I’m coming back probably at the end of the season and he knows me. Everything can be positive and very good for me. But at the end of the season, I had this injury, I was coming back and playing a couple of games (at Celtic).
“Then the international break came, some players said they couldn’t play so I played and pushed too much. I then came to pre-season injured, so that was my fault at the beginning. I came to pre-season not ready and some of the other guys got a chance and took it.”
Given how things turned out, some may wonder if he wished he stayed in Glasgow, but as Filip revealed that decision was out of his hands.
“After my year there, for me personally, it was always an option to stay at the club. I felt like it was a home. I think from both sides there was interest to stay there. I know from my side there was.
“You know how it is in football, so many times have to fall together to make something happen. If you ask me back then, I said I wanted to stay there many, many times. But so many other things have to fall between clubs. That’s why football is a special game.”
Filip Benkovic’s career has now taken an unexpected turn as he is registered with Udinese but has been farmed out to unfashionable German minnows Eintracht Braunschweig on loan.
We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.