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Erik Sviatchenko is relishing European nights at Celtic

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 19/01/2016

Change of scenery: Sadio Mane of Southampton challenges new Bhoys ace Erik Sviatchenko during his FC Midtjylland days
Change of scenery: Sadio Mane of Southampton challenges new Bhoys ace Erik Sviatchenko during his FC Midtjylland days

Erik Sviatchenko passed up a Europa League clash against Manchester United with Danish side FC Midtjylland because he hopes he will one day face the Red Devils in the Champions League now he has joined Celtic.

The 24-year Denmark defender has signed for the Hoops on a four-and-a-half year deal for a reported fee of £1.5million but will not feature against Hamilton tonight.

Sviatchenko helped FC Midtjylland reach the last 32 of the Europa League, where they will play United next month, but opted to move to Glasgow in the January transfer window. When meeting the media at Celtic's Lennoxtown training complex, he took a longer-term view.

"I am 24 and I have to have a career that is beyond two games against United," he said "I think we can face them in the Champions League in the future.

"I can see Celtic progressing to the place they belong, that is the Champions League. Their history is big, they have won the trophy.

"I'm not saying that we can do that again but I think we can be part of it every year but first and foremost we have to win the league.

"It's a winning club, they have been champions for the last four years.

"I won the championship in Denmark, I want to be remembered for winning. So it is a good match with Celtic."

Sviatchenko claimed to have rejected moves to Italy, France and England to join the Hoops.

"I rejected it because I saw Celtic as a bigger club than some of the Premier League clubs," he said.

"It means a lot to me to be at a club where I can feel the intensity, the atmosphere. I want to experience big games.

"I walked around Celtic Park and I had goose bumps.

"I talked to my former team-mate Morten Rasmussen and he said that even though he hadn't the success he had hoped for at Celtic, that I will always remember Celtic for being a big club and I can feel that."

Sviatchenko also spoke openly about his use of a mind coach in his development as a defender.

He said: "Sometimes when you are a young player it can be hard to find your identity so we worked on different things, the good Erik Sviatchenko and the bad Erik Sviatchenko and we find the good one.

"It was done to make me ready for a change but I didn't think it was for such a big club like Celtic. I had to pinch myself."

Sviatchenko will return to Denmark for a few days, hence missing the Ladbrokes Premiership match with Hamilton tonight, but manager Ronny Deila is expecting a good player to join his squad.

He said: "I am very happy, we have watched him for a long time, not just in this transfer window.

"We have big hopes for him. He has experience but he is still young and we are very, very excited."

The Norwegian dodged a question about Molde forward Mohamed Elyounoussi who has been quoted as confirming Celtic's interest, saying: "Good try, we will see in the future if we will bring in more."

Belfast Telegraph

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