Efrain Juarez is now one of the Bhoys at Celtic
A young Efrain Juarez watched in amazement at television footage of tens of thousands of Celtic supporters congregating in Seville for the 2003 UEFA Cup final.
So the Mexico international needed no second invitation to sign for the club when Neil Lennon targeted him this summer.
Juarez was unveiled yesterday at Celtic Park in the green and white hoops he insisted are famous throughout his homeland.
The 22-year-old has signed a four-year contract following a protracted move from UNAM Pumas.
Juarez first caught Lennon’s eye when he played for his country against England at Wembley in May and the Celtic boss followed up his interest after watching the versatile player in action during the World Cup.
Juarez had a spell at Barcelona as a teenager, before work permit problems forced him to return to Mexico. There were suggestions the Catalan club were interested in re-signing him this summer.
But the full-back, who can also play in midfield, did not need time for contemplation when Celtic made him an offer.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “It’s a big club, a historic club, not only in Scotland but Europe and the world.
“My agent told me Celtic were interested and I didn’t have to think twice.
“I remember the final against Porto in Sevilla. It was amazing, they are amazing fans. I met some outside and their passion is important.
“I tell you, it’s amazing that 70,000 supporters travelled. Only a few clubs would have this kind of support follow them all over the world. It’s a very famous club in Mexico.”
“I want to win trophies and championships,” he said. “This club is used to winning trophies and this is my goal.”
Juarez could make his debut in Portugal tomorrow as Celtic open their Champions League qualifying campaign against Sporting Braga.
“I feel ready,” he said. “I’ve been training very hard. I feel good but it’s not my decision. If the coach thinks I’m ready then I’ll be delighted to play.”
Juarez revealed his initial excitement about playing for Celtic was reinforced when he spoke to Parkhead midfielder Marc Crosas, a former team-mate at Barcelona.
And he rejected reports he signed for Celtic because he had been assured a midfield role.
“To represent these colours, I would play in goal,” he said.