Matt O’Riley seeks Celtic pinnacle as midfielder says he can reach the top while in Glasgow


Matt O’Riley has grand designs to star on the biggest stage in football – and he’s convinced Celtic can be his ticket to the top.

The playmaker has been a smash hit since his arrival from MK Dons in January and punters reckon it’s not just Callum McGregor who should be wearing a mask these days.

Gaffer Ange Postecoglou snapping up the midfielder for just £1.5million is looking more like daylight robbery by the week as the 21-year-old has hit the ground running.

O’Riley – who grabbed his first goal for the club in Wednesday’s battling 3-2 win at Aberdeen – has been tipped for big things since coming through as a kid at Fulham and the Hoops ace hasn’t hidden his lofty ambitions.

But he’s sure he can achieve them with Celts as the Parkhead men target silver success at home and in Europe.

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O’Riley said: “You have to aim big and I’m not going to settle for a certain level, I want to reach the very top.

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“That’s what I want to do and a club like Celtic has a potential to do that so I am really happy to be here and happy to be playing.”

O’Riley caught the eye before the trip to Pittodrie but admitted he had been desperate to open his account.

The youngster teed up Jota for the opener at Pittodrie – and then lapped up the celebrations when he slotted away the second with his deflected drive.

O’Riley said: “I was delighted with the goal. I’m not going to lie, I said before the game I could do with scoring because I’m five games in.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou shakes hands with Matt O’Riley

“I missed one chance against Dundee United which was a really good opportunity and it was playing at the back of mind a little bit.

“So I said before the game that I could do with scoring just for my own head and fortunately it happened.

“It was amazing, it was also in front of the fans which always makes it better.

“I’m not too fussed about goals as long as we are winning, that’s the main thing.

“Of course it is nice to get contributions yourself but the team getting three points is the main thing, honestly.”

O’Riley has made a huge impact and is already a firm fans’ favorite with his high-energy displays.

The former Don believes the support from the stands and in the squad has made the settling-in process a breeze.

He said: “Everyone gets nervous, some people show it more than others.

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“The first game against Hearts I was a bit more nervous just because it was my first for a new club but once the game starts I feel fine.

“I feel more than ready to contribute and obviously the more games you play the more confident you feel – and I feel really good at the moment.

“I am very grateful for that support. It is not necessarily easy to settle in quickly at a club like Celtic.

“So I am really happy with the way it is going and obviously the support from fans is always nice so I am very grateful.

“I feel good. I find it easier to play with better players in that sense.

“I know when they want the ball and when they are going to give me the ball so in that sense I found it easier to adapt.

Celtic are next up for Motherwell, fresh from their thumping win over Rangers
O’Riley was thrust into last week’s derby

“Some of the opposition are obviously tougher than in League One at times, like Rangers for example. But when you have good players around you it makes it easy and off the pitch as well, everyone is just genuinely really nice people which has made it really easy for me.”

O’Riley is thrilled to be a regular but knows Celtic are going to need to use their full squad in a frantic next few weeks as the title fight heats up and the Premiership split approaches.

Raith Rovers are at Celtic Park on Sunday before Norwegian shock troops Bodo/Glimt arrive for their Europa Conference League clash.

The games are coming thick and fast and it’s a measure of the strength in depth boss Postecoglou now has at his disposal that O’Riley and star man Jota were back in the starting line up having been benched for a win at Motherwell last weekend.

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O’Riley said: “We have a really strong squad now so in terms of rotation it is going to be really important.

“We have so many games coming up that everyone genuinely needs to be ready because 10 games in a month. It is hard to play every game and play at your maximum potential so in that sense you really need to utilize the squad as much as possible.

“Me and Jota came in the other day and helped out and that’s all we can do.”




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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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