JOZO SIMUNOVIC will stay and fight for his Celtic place – after a heart-to-attack chat with Brendan Rodgers.

The Croatian defender had a frustrating end to the season after being dropped following the 4-0 loss against Hearts in December and then being sent off in the Hoops’ 3-2 win over Rangers at Ibrox in March.

Simunovic has started
 only one game since Kristoffer Ajer established himself as Dedryck Boyata’s partner in the centre of defence.

He replaced the 20-year-old Norwegian for the remaining 15 minutes of the 2-0 Scottish Cup Final win over Motherwell on Saturday.

Now Simunovic, 23, who is under contract until the summer of 2021, is determined to force his way back into Rodgers’ starting line-up.

CHEERS…Jozo Simunovic accepts the applause of the fans as he holds aloft the Scottish Cup.

He said: “The second half of the season was frustrating, but by the end it was okay for me.

“I’ve been ready to play all the time and it’s just been down to the decision of the manager.

“Of course, I wanted to show my best in training, but it’s the manager’s decision and the thing is in the end we won the treble.

“He explained it to me and I’m still very happy here. I cannot tell you what he said to me – that must remain personal. But it was a very good conversation. He speaks with every player so it was nothing strange that he spoke to me.

“It’s a challenge for me to get back in the team. I’m looking forward to next season to working hard and trying to get back in. My contract is here for another three years and I’m ready for that.

“It was a nice feeling to get on the pitch at Hampden and the most important thing was that we won and got the treble again. I’m very proud.

“It was something special to win another treble and to be part of that on the pitch is very special. Every player wants to play, but there’s no problem if others get on. If I didn’t make it on the pitch, then I don’t have an issue.”

BOOTED AND SUITED..the treble winners with Jozo Simunovic extreme left. Pics: Geo.


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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