CELTIC new Bhoy Matt O’Riley can’t wait to start working with Ange Postecoglou after agreeing a £1.5million switch from MK Dons, a move forecast in Scotzine earlier this week.
The 21-year-old midfielder was the target for four English clubs – West Brom, Swansea City, Huddersfield and Blackburn Rovers – as well as Serie A outfit Venezia and Belgium giants Anderlecht, but there was only place he was heading for after a chat with the Hoops boss.
Postecoglou applied the personal touch to persuade him Parkhead was where his skills would be most appreciated and the former England youth international was delighted to sign a four-and-a-half year deal to become the Greek-Australian’s FIFTH capture in this transfer window.
WELCOME, MATT…new Bhoy Matt O’Riley proudly holds his new Celtic shirt.
O’Riley admitted: “It feels amazing. It’s the first time taking the stadium in and it’s even better than I thought it would be. To put it simply, I’m just really happy to be here. It’s a massive club and I’m just really excited to get going.
“There were other options, ones that I thought were the only ones before Celtic, and then Celtic came out of the blue.
“I found out quite late, and then I had a phone call with Ange. He came across really, really well and he was the one who really sold it to me.
“Obviously, the club itself is massive, but just speaking to him really sorted it out for me. With the style he plays, and all that surrounds it, and him as a person, as soon as I got off the phone I was ready to come, to be honest.”
O’Riley kicked off his career at Craven Cottage and made his first-team debut at the age of 16. At the London club, he worked with Hoops legend Peter Grant and played alongside one-time fans’ favourite Patrick Roberts and Norwegian international Stefan Johansen.
THE SILVER TOUCH AND THE SILVER TONGUE…Ange Postecoglou persuaded Matt O’Riley to join Celtic.
The latest recruit, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “Peter Grant coached me during my time at Fulham in the Under-23s. He’s a really nice guy and he helped me develop.
“I went to school with Pat. He’s a little bit older than me, so we didn’t speak much, but at the time he was someone I looked up to at the club. He was doing really well at the time, so that’s another one for the storybooks.
“I got to know Stef, too, so I’m good mates with all of them. But it just shows you that a club like Celtic can attract players like Stef and Pat, and Peter, of course, and it’s nice to just follow the same route as such.”
O’Riley added: “That’s another thing that was massive in terms of my decision to come here. I always said that I wouldn’t just join a club if they paid me a certain amount of money if the style wasn’t right.
“I’m not that kind of guy. The style is right here and, again, that’s one of the main reasons why I’ve come.
EYE-OPENER…Matt O’Riley is impressed by the size of Celtic.
“Ange said to me on the phone that, of course, we want to win – the expectation is to win – but win the right way, win by playing proper football and that’s what I have come here to do.
“The big stage is what I want as a player and that’s one of the main reasons I’ve come here – the fanbase, the size of the club.
“I mean, 40,000 sounds like a lot to me, so the fact that it’s close to 60,000 people here is pretty incredible and it’s something I’m really excited about.”
O’Riley has followed Japanese trio Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi and Irish teenage striker Johnny Kenny in pledging his future to the club.
The player, who joined MK Dons in January last year, made 52 appearances for the English League One club, scoring nine goals including seven this season.
Postecoglou commented: “We’re delighted to get Matt into the club. He’s someone who should fit in well with the group we have here, both from on the field and also the kind of person he is.
“We’re looking forward to having him as part of the group. He’s a talented young player and I’m sure he’ll enjoy his time here. I’m also sure he’ll add to what we’ve already started.”