It has to be a first and it’s certainly going to be respected by the Celtic support. Today is Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement and the holiest day in the Jewish calendar and for Ange Postecoglou he knew as soon as the Europa League fixtures were confirmed that he’d be without Liel Abada for the opening Europa League fixture against Real Betis at the magnificent Estadio Benito Villamarín.
The Israeli winger has scored four goals in ten appearances for Celtic and will of course be a big miss this evening, particularly as James Forrest is also unavailable, with the Scotland winger probably being another ten days or so away from a return.
For Yom Kippur Jewish people traditionally observe it with a day-long fast and intensive prayers, although there’s usually always an exception to the rule, like in 1973. The 19 year old Celtic star, who comes from a Mizrahi Jewish family wasn’t around at that time though.
At yesterday’s Media Conference Ange Postecoglou explained this unique reason for a player missing a big European match and the Australian certainly has no issued at all with Abada being unavailable due to religious reasons. “It’s a significant day in his religion and quite rightly he’s not able to participate,” the Celtic manager said (media Conference video is shown below).
“Yom Kippur is an important day in the holy calendar for Jewish people. It’s a day where you’re not allowed to participate in events, a day of reflection.
“I was more than aware of it — as soon as the fixtures came out we kind of knew he wouldn’t be available, because the date doesn’t change.
“It’s not the first time it’s happened in my career, where a player’s religious beliefs have meant football doesn’t take the priority we all think it should maybe. That’s the case for Liel and we’re very respectful of that.”
Incidentally a big plus for Celtic in Liel Abada not playing this evening is that he’ll have fresh legs for Sunday’s absolutely must win away to Livingston, in a match that Ange Postecoglou and many of his summer signings will be introduced to the away support for the first time!
But before that it’s all about the game in Seville and we’re an optimistic support so today can still be the day that we win away! Fingers crossed and happy Yom Kippur to Liel Abada and his family.