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|Posté le: Lun 28 Mai - 07:49 (2018) Sujet du message: Sviatchenko takes his leave of Celtic but the club will alwa
Erik Sviatchenko ticked a few things off his bucket list in Glasgow.
There was a goal pic5678 against Rangers to live in the memory, but it was his first experience of Celtic Park on a Champions League night that will be tattooed on his psyche. As he took his place in the line-up, it was the sight of a ballboy's face lit up with excitement that Sviatchenko felt was a reflection of his own.
Recalling the night in which Celtic and Pep Guardiola's then unbeaten Manchester City side played out at 3-3 draw in the Champions League, Sviatchenko recalled how he and the onlooking teenager were as agog as one another.
“It was breathtaking to walk out to that,” he said. “There were lights and cameras everywhere. There was so much colour and so much noise, people singing and whistling and taking photographs. Since I was a boy my dream was to play in the Champions League and that night, the first game at home in the group, was so very special.
“I always remember taking my place in the line-up as we faced the dug-outs just before the game and I made eye-contact with this kid, one of the ballboys. We looked at one another and he had this beaming smile on his face and so did I – I think I was more excited than even he was.
“It is one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had in football and I will always be grateful to Celtic for giving it to me. And then we played so well. We should have won that game. We were fantastic and the whole experience, against really world-class players, was just so incredible.”
It is unlikely that Celtic will see another Sviatchenko.
Just over two years ago the Danish defender spent his inaugural press conference at the club after being signed by Ronny Deila in the 2015 January transfer window discussing his fashion blog and his conceptual artist father’s influence.
If he seemed like a flamboyant arrival on the scene, it did not take long to underline that with his entry on to the playing field; his first goal for the club was a header in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers, a game that ended in defeat after a penalty shoot-out and ultimately cost Deila his job.
“Sometimes I go on YouTube and watch that goal back. It still gives me goosebumps,” said the defender. “All through my childhood I knew about the games between Celtic and Rangers. To score in one was an unbelievable feeling. It felt like an entrance into my career at Celtic and I still think that the connection between the supporters and the team at that moment was amazing. It was not like anything I could ever imagined.
“As I suspected then but which I came to understand fully, you are more than just a football player when you are at Celtic. And when I was in Glasgow there was only one football team and that was the green one!”
Sviatchenko has formally left Celtic, but Celtic will never quite leave him. The cornerstone moments of his adult life; marriage, the birth of his first child – “we called him William with a nod to William Wallace”, happened when he was in Glasgow with Celtic and although things unravelled midway through Brendan Rodgers’ first season at the club, there is no trace of bitterness as he looks back upon his Celtic career.
There is a belief among a number of the Parkhead supporters that Sviatchenko would have offered what was a fragile defence this term greater solidity and there were some suspecting that a recall could have been in order after his loan stint.
“For those first six months under Brendan I was playing in every game,” he recalled, “And then I wasn’t. It is difficult to say what happened. Brendan was very fond of me. He liked the way I played. He liked the way I tried to be an attacking defender, he liked that I wanted to improve and he liked that I wanted to get forward. I think ultimately it came down to a lot of small things.
“I think he would have liked me to be more of a leader in games. It is just football. Last summer I was determined to come back and get back into the team but then after playing hardly any football, I got called into the team because Dedryck [Boyata] was injured for the Champions League qualifier against Rosenborg.
“And when I tore the ligaments in my knee, I knew that the writing was on the wall. pic5678 mobile There was no way back in for me after that. But I do not look back and feel angry. This is football. I learned so much at the club and it was such a privilege to play for a great club. I love its story. I am proud that I played a small part in it.”
Sviatchenko’s name will be woven into the fabric of the club after his part in the Invincibles season. He made 43 appearances for Rodgers last term and was there at Hampden when Tom Rogic sealed an historic campaign with his dramatic winner at the national stadium to complete a clean sweep and to go through the entire campaign unbeaten.
If that felt like a long time ago as Sviatchenko watched his former team-mates party on the same turf just last weekend when the club completed a back-to-back treble, there is nothing but applause from the Dane.
“I watched the game on TV and I was so pleased for them,” he said. “I was so happy for them because I know how hard they work to get to that level. I will always watch them. I am grateful that I had a chance to pull on that shirt. I had an incredible time and I leave a better player than when I arrived.” pic5678