Giorgios Giakoumakis opens up on his early struggles at Celtic and how he overcame them

While Celtic now sit six points clear and favorites to clinch the title, the Greek striker – who notched his second hat-trick in two months in a 4-0 home win over Ross County – has been named the cinch Premiership Player of the Month.

It has been a significant turnaround in fortunes for the 27-year-old, who has scored 12 goals in 13 starts and a total of 23 appearances and while he says little could dent his ego at the moment, the same could not be said in the early part of his Celtic career, but he gained strength from Postecoglou’s man-management.

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“Since the first moment I came here and had this hard time, he was always next to my side and trying to help me and convince me that ‘I believe in you,” said Giakoumakis.

Celtic Giorgos Giakoumakis wins the cinch Premiership player of the month award for March.

“He told me I just needed to try to get fit and that I was a really important player for him and the team. That was really important to me.

“It was something that made me feel good and relaxed. I could focus on my recovery.

“I feel good about my football at the moment. The second half of the season has been really good for me.”

But those early days were tough.

“It was a really frustrating time for me. I was trying to settle and adjust to a new environment. I was looking forward to coming here and playing my first games but it was harder than I thought.

“I had an injury and also Covid so it was difficult for me to get fit and strong and help my team-mates.

‘It was a really difficult time but it’s made me even more egoistical. My ego is now even bigger. I worked even harder and that’s why I’m really strong right now.”

That self-belief has irked rivals, with Ryan Jack taking umbrage when Giakoumakis claimed Celtic outshone their Glasgow rivals in every area on the park, but it has also fueled the kind of performances that justify his words and earn him the right to think about the Treble.

“Of course I can say that when you play for Celtic that the target is to win every trophy. So we have to fight for it. We have a strong semi-final but right now we’re focused on the league because it’s the next game that we have to play.”

Once this weekend’s St Johnstone game is negotiated, sights return to Rangers, and the quest for a spot in the Scottish Cup final. And, although Greek football has given Giakoumakis a decent derby grounding, he says the Celtic/Rangers head-to-head in special.

“There are some huge games back in Greece – derbies where the atmosphere is really crazy. But I think the Old Firm is something special – even bigger.

“You can see how much people love football here so I think it’s even bigger here. But, those experiences in Greece did prepare me for it. They made me stronger and gave me focus. But last Sunday I had to close my ears and focus on my team.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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