Former Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata has denied going on strike at the start of last season.

The Belgian was the centre of some controversy this time last year when he reportedly refused to play for Celtic during a vital Champions League tie against AEK Athens. The Hoops lose the tie to the Greek champions and plummeted into the Europa League as a result.

And after the Athens defeat, boss Brendan Rodgers made his feelings on Boyata very clear.

“My concentration until I get back is only with the players that are here,” he told the Guardian. “But yes, Dedryck would have been fit to play.

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(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

“He has been with us on the journey now for a couple of years and helped us get to this position and someone of his quality, a World Cup semi-finalist in our team, certainly would have helped.”

The Celtic support took Rodgers’ side at that point and there were boos when the defender made his next appearance a few weeks later. But now Boyata, who is with German top-flight side Hertha Berlin, has denied any claims that he refused to play.

 

“It’s not true, I was accused of strikes last summer so I could move,” he told German magazine Sport Bild.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“I also played through the season, was in the Scottish team of the year and played my part in the title.

“The truth is, I’ve won everything at Celtic in four years but it was time to start something new.”

Boyata let Celtic down last summer

Boyata’s comments aren’t likely to matter too much to the Celtic support. They, and the player, all know what happened last summer. Boyata did seemingly choose not to play for the club amid interest from Fulham but he also made up for it later in the season.

The 28-year-old was an important player for us as we clinched a third successive treble last year. He was arguably our leading defender throughout the season and it was a bit of a blow when we found out that he would be moving on at the end of the season.

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However, the emergence of Kristoffer Ajer as well as big summer signing Christopher Jullien seem to have put Boyata in a shade a little. The Belgian was always going to be a miss but the size of that miss would depend on how we replaced him.

So far it looks pretty promising.

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