Celtic star O'Riley on "big" dressing room difference after switching allegiance from England

By Euan Davidson

March 29, 2022

Celtic January signing Matt O’Riley has been full of enthusiasm about switching his international allegiance from England to Denmark.

The London-born ex-Fulham man, who qualifies for Denmark via his mother, has been involved in the Danish U21 squad this international break. Having represented England at youth levels, playing alongside some very impressive talent, he’s more than capable of comparing the two.

As he eagerly awaits to find out if he’ll make his debut tonight, against Belgium, O’Riley has reflected on his new experiences with Denmark. Crucially, it’s about personality for him, and what he’s seen from his Danish teammates has left him very encouraged.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

O’Riley could begin his competitive Denmark career where Ange Postecoglou made his first away trip with Celtic; the MCH Arena in Mid-Jutland, Denmark. He couldn’t feel more welcome and ready to go, he says.

Speaking to Bold.dk, O’Riley said [Bold]: “It has been a long time since I was on one of the English youth national teams, but I [think] that people are more friendly and enormously welcoming here.

“People are just good at talking to me and it has nothing to do with it being me. That’s because people like Jesper Sørensen and the rest of the staff are just good people.

“It is at least a big difference between England and Denmark. There is a kind of family feeling here and it feels good to be in.”

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Celtic star Matt O’Riley finding himself after switching from England for club and country

It’s great to hear Matt O’Riley sounding as confident and happy as ever, having joined both Celtic and Denmark U21 set ups in 2022.

The year he’s had already has been pretty formative. He’s now at one of the world’s biggest clubs, and it’s no surprise he’s received an international nod.

Without putting words in his mouth, though, you have to wonder what his experiences were with England’s youth teams. From the outside, you get the sense that it’s pretty ruthless. Given the sheer amount of talent being produced south of the border, competition must be fierce.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Not to say it isn’t with Denmark. However, there’s an obvious cultural difference. Perhaps with fewer players gunning for your spot in the team, the atmosphere is different.

If there’s a family feeling for both club and country, O’Riley will thrive. That’s true of any player, really. Being in the right environment is so crucial. Much as tactics, role and instructions matter, happy players tend to give bigger performances.

An intelligent and thoughtful player, O’Riley has been excellent at Celtic thus far.

If he can cap his early 2022 journey with a display against Belgium for Denmark tonight, he might have England selectors wondering what they did wrong.

How satisfying that would be.

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