Danish national team boss' behind-the-scenes chat with Celtic midfielder Matt O'Riley

By David Walton

June 8, 2022

Matt O’Riley has revealed the details of his meeting with Denmark national team manager Kasper Hjulmand.

The Danish under-21s, which O’Riley is a part of, have been training with the first-team as they prepare for their clash against Scotland on Friday.

This has allowed the Celtic star to experience life on the pitch with the likes of Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite, who he also spoke to after training.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And O’Riley has been dishing out the details of that chat in an interview with Bold.dk. As quoted by the Danish outlet, Matt said: “The different coaches also welcomed me and talked to me a lot, so it was a good experience.

“Yes, I did [meet Hjulmand]. He came over to me and told me he was happy to see me. He also praised me for my game. That was nice to hear, because it’s the Danish national coach you hear it from. Of course, I wanted to show myself off to him, because I have a goal of being selected for the national team and going to the World Cup. That was my goal when I was first selected for the U21s, and it still is.

“No, he didn’t! [guarantee him a World Cup spot]. He did say that it was good to see me playing at that level as I was playing well with good players.”

Denmark boss impressed with what Celtic star has to offer

Hjulmand certainly has plenty of midfield talent at his disposal in the senior side. Proven EPL quality such as Matias Jensen and Pierre-Emile Hjoberg remain in front of Matt in the pecking order.

But that’s why it’s vital for him to continue impressing with the under-21s whilst competing in the UEFA Champions League. Positive performances in the latter would be huge for his profile and would likely be enough to bag him a spot in the senior squad.

However, there’s a race against time at this stage to try and make the World Cup squad in November. Denmark will be there after topping the same group Scotland were in. And with UCL games coming up before the competition, there’s a fine chance O’Riley can sneak his way in should he impress.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

At the moment, his only goal will be adding to his assist-making contribution against Kazakhstan over the weekend. He’s up against Celtic teammate Stephen Welsh on Friday in the final U21 Euro qualifying match. Denmark are already guaranteed a playoff spot, but every opportunity to represent his country is important for the former MK Dons man.

That Hjulmand has added to the praising of him is another major morale boost for Matt. It’ll be interesting to see what that does for his belief not just on international duty but when he returns for pre-season.

The best thing you can say about O’Riley? The praise from Hjulmand doesn’t come as as any sort of surprise.

In other news, AIK director addresses Erick Otieno speculation after Celtic link