Giorgos Giakoumakis aims to be Celtic's first-choice striker, vowing to repay Ange Postecoglou's faith during slow start

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Giorgos Giakoumakis says that manager Ange Postecoglou was a great help to him during his injury-hit start to life at Celtic.
Giorgos Giakoumakis says that manager Ange Postecoglou was a great help to him during his injury-hit start to life at Celtic.

IN the unforgiving world of Scottish football, some had already written off Celtic summer signing Giorgos Giakoumakis as a flop not so long ago, despite an injury hit start to his career in this country that saw him reduced to a handful of appearances since his move from VVV Venlo.

The main driver of such talk seemed to be his injury-time penalty miss against Livingston, which cost Celtic two valuable points in the title race. That was then followed by another injury for the striker, whose story at Celtic was starting to resemble something of a Greek tragedy.

Giakoumakis hopes though that his troubles are now all behind him, with his two goals in his last two games against Alloa and Hearts – and his performances in those games – hinting that the 27-year-old has much to offer this Celtic team after all.

With the absence of Kyogo through injury and Daizen Maeda on international duty, the former AEK Athens man couldn’t have timed this run of form much better, and he is hoping to grasp this opportunity to show that he is much more than just a stop-gap until those players return to the fray.

When asked if he could earn the right to be Celtic’s first-choice striker, Giakoumakis replied: “Yes, I just need to be myself.

“I don’t think [the manager] has ever not trusted me, it was just because of the injuries I didn’t play too much.

“The target for me since the day I came here was to be one of the main players in the squad.

“The expectations were high, but that’s why I work hard to improve myself every single day.”

Giakoumakis is finally starting to see the fruits of that labour, as are the Celtic supporters, with the forward saying they will now see the real him after his false start at the club.

“First of all I have to help the team and be there for the team,” he said. “But I really wanted to show the fans what type of player I am.

“I am a striker, so of course my job is to score. Well, one of my jobs is to score, but I also have to work hard for the team and it is something the fans will see from me.

“As long as I am fit and strong, they will see the real me.

“It was quite difficult [at the start], because from the first days you try to adjust to the new environment and you want to be with the squad to get to know your teammates and get some games.

“You have to get to know them well, and know them better on the pitch too.

“It was really difficult for me because before I even started playing I was injured twice, and I didn’t have the chance to play with my teammates and let them get to know the style of my play, or try to score some goals.

“It was really hard for me and I hope that this belong in the past, and I can move on.”

When many were doubting him, it cannot be underplayed just how vital a role Ange Postecoglou played in keeping Giakoumakis’s spirits high during the low moments he initially experienced upon his move to Glasgow.

It makes him all the more determined to now repay the faith that his manager has shown in him by scoring as many goals as he can for Celtic.

“He was really important for me since the first day I arrived in Glasgow,” he said.

“He was really patient with me and my injuries, and he was always saying to me ‘I really believe in you, I’m waiting for you, try to get fit’. That was really important for me. It made me more determined.

“Every player needs to feel important in the squad when he’s not in the team, so it was something that helped me a lot, a manager that made me feel important even when I wasn’t playing here and when I was injured.

“That really gave me motivation to work even more and work harder to gain my fitness back.”

That motivation stretched to a mini pre-season over the winter break, as Giakoumakis joined James Forrest and Christopher Jullien in a gruelling week of work at Lennoxtown while the rest of the squad enjoyed a break.

“I missed pre-season so already it was really difficult for me,” he said.

“I had to work more even before the injuries, so you can imagine after the injuries how much I had to work.

“Even when the players got the week off I knew I had to stay back and work a lot.

“It felt like a mini pre-season, and it’s something I had to do. That’s why I now feel fit and strong.”

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