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Celtic's Paddy McCourt rejects Premier League bid


Paddy McCourt of Celtic

Paddy McCourt of Celtic

Jonathan Wood

Paddy McCourt of Celtic

Celtic have beaten off overtures from Premier League side Blackpool to secure the services of Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt.

The former Derry City man has agreed a two-year extension to his contract at Celtic Park.

The Northern Ireland international had a year of his contract to run but the new deal — which is “close” to completion — will keep him at Parkhead until 2013.

It is believed McCourt's desire to make his mark at Celtic lay behind his decision to stay at the club despite the fact that Blackpool boss Ian Holloway has tried to sign the player three times — once in January and twice already this summer with all bids being turned down.

The boyhood Hoops' fan has become a cult hero to the Parkhead support, thanks to some spectacular solo goals, despite playing a peripheral role at the club since moving from the Brandywell in 2008.

McCourt featured heavily in Celtic's pre-season games but was missing from the side which lost 3-0 to Sporting Braga in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifier in Portugal on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, some of the gloom from that defeat was banished yesterday when manager Neil Lennon made his seventh new signing of the summer. Israel midfielder Beram Kayal, 22, signed a four-year contract after completing his move from Maccabi Haifa, subject to final paperwork.

Beram Kayal has promised to make Celtic's fans happy again after claiming playing in the Champions League meant nothing compared to starring for “one of the best clubs in the world”.

Kayal played in last season's group stages but the 22-year-old insisted signing for Celtic was all he needed to make him happy.

“I came here so happy, so excited,” Kayal said through an interpreter. “I'm just thinking about the moment I get on the pitch and play for the Celtic fans. This is all I care about.

“When you speak about the Champions League, it's nothing. When you say Celtic, it's a big, big thing. Celtic is a big name, it's a big community. I'm happy to play for one of the best clubs in the world and I'm not thinking about other things.”

Kayal rejected more lucrative offers from the likes of Galatasaray to sign for the Hoops after Lennon sold him his vision for the club.

“I talked with the coach and I was very impressed,” said Kayal.

“After the discussions I found out that he was the guy who targeted me. He saw me on a lot of occasions. I'm happy he chose me and I'm happy to play for him.”

Belfast Telegraph