Former Celtic man Dedryck Boyata has opened up on the circumstances surrounding the dramatic 2018 summer transfer window and his eventual exit.
The defender, now at Hertha Berlin, opened up on his time in Glasgow to Nedum Onuoah, on the ‘Kickback with Nedum‘ podcast.
After a Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens in 2018, Brendan Rodgers claimed Boyata was fit, and could have played [Scottish Sun]. In actuality, according to Boyata, a hamstring niggle from the World Cup prevented Boyata from helping his team-mates.
The entire saga made big headlines at the time and Boyata would eventually leave at the end of that season on a free transfer.
“I am the villain”
Boyata told the ‘Kickback with Nedum‘ podcast: “I cannot speak for them, but I really did not think they expected me to go to the World Cup, or for me to play. So I go to the World Cup, and I have one year left. So we ended up having a good World Cup, finished 3rd. Come back to Celtic. I had very good relations with Brendan Rodgers.
“I got mixed up in a situation I’ve never been in. [I had] all these teams coming from left to right.
“That was the year the transfer window was closing earlier than usual. So what happened is, I speak with the guys, I speak with the doctors, the coach, about the situation. Yes, I requested a transfer. I said “I have these teams behind me, I don’t know what’s going to happen for me in the future. I need to know what’s going on now.”
“For myself it was a little bit difficult. I have never been in a situation where I am the villain.”
For the defender, the breaking point in his relationship with Celtic came when Rodgers gave the now infamous interview on his situation, opening Boyata up to all sorts of media attention.
The defender wasn’t happy, telling the ‘Kickback with Nedum‘ podcast: “Brendan Rodgers had an interview where he said “it’s difficult to win games when we have fit players at home, who don’t want to help the team. From this interview, Chris Sutton was so hurtful. Honestly, he was so hurtful that I wrote down everything he said. He said something like “you need to kick him out of the team!”
“At that moment, I just felt… I spoke to every single player about my situation. The captain, the goalkeeper… these guys were affected by the situation. They wanted to go to the Champions League. They said “we need to find the best situation for Dedryk!”.
“From that moment, I was finished. I came back the day after and went to speak to [Rodgers]. “How can you do this to me? How can you put me in the situation? You know everything that was going on, you were aware of everything”. He protected himself, he protected the team, and I was the bad guy.
“From [then] on, it [was] finished.”
Dedryck Boyata Celtic exit is fascinating case study of media affecting players
Boyata’s account is a rare insight into how punditry affects players.
The Belgian’s refreshing honesty is actually pretty incredible. Players will have been media trained to spout the same old platitudes about how criticism doesn’t affect them. In this case, Chris Sutton was instrumental to Boyata being done with the club. And honestly, it’s hard to blame him.
If you believe Boyata, who talked about enjoying playing for the club, and wanting to do well at Celtic, then it’s remarkable stuff. It’s also a warning to the media about affecting the mental health of players. So often, we see pundits adopting characteristics in order to shock and bring in viewers.
Turns out, it has real-life impact.