Matt O'Riley sure his Celtic 'love' will never die and Joe Hart's answer to his burning question proves why

O'Riley celebrates his goal -Credit:SNS Group
O'Riley celebrates his goal -Credit:SNS Group

Matt O’Riley’s future is uncertain but he is sure Celtic will always have huge place in his heart.

The 23-year-old is with teammate Joe Hart – who insisted he will be back as Hoops fan after he hangs up his gloves at the end of term. O’Riley said: “I actually asked Joe that. I asked if there’s anywhere else like this and he said ‘no, not at all’. He’s played at the highest level with the best players and the biggest clubs. But it just shows the passion and love for Celtic, both sides of Glasgow – I’m sure Rangers will say the same – but the love and intensity for both their clubs is so strong that naturally you get sucked in and fall in love with the team.

“I don’t think anyone realises how big the club is until you get here. I realised on my first day just how big it was. I’ve told this story before, I was viewing properties and there were builders running after me and I honestly thought ‘what is happening here’ I wasn’t used to it.

“It was that intensity and passion from people, it sucks you right in. So naturally I’ve been in love with the club for a long time. Hopefully that shows by dedication and performance. I’m really enjoying it and hopefully still will.”

O’Riley wants to relish the run in with Celtic facing back-to-back home clashes with Hearts and Rangers that could all but wrap up the title. But the Denmark cap warned: “That is the plan. It’s easier said that done – and that’s why we can’t get ahead of ourselves.

“We lost to Hearts the last time at home so we need to be focused and can’t be thinking about the next one. We are in the position where we want to be and the squad is in a good place as well. We have players back and Daizen Maeda is hopefully training this week too. The squad is strong.”

O’Riley is out for the main team prizes but admitted he was thrilled to be listed for the PFA player of the year gong, along with Rangers pair James Tavernier and Jack Butland, as well as Hearts ace Lawrence Shankland. He said: “It’s nice to be nominated. It’s not something I was going after in terms of my goals at the start of the season, but I’m obviously very grateful.

“It means a lot, especially when it comes from players you are up against every week. That means a little bit more coming from peers you are battling with on the pitch.”