"Fantastic footballer"; John Hartson left wowed in Sky studio by Celtic man Matt O'Riley

By David Walton

January 27, 2022

Celtic great John Hartson was left absolutely delighted with new Hoops star Matt O’Riley as he watched his debut from the Sky Sports studio.

Hartson was part of the Sky team that covered last night’s 2-1 win at Tynecastle. Goals from Reo Hatate and Giorgos Giakoumakis ensured Celtic left Edinburgh with 3 massive points as they avenged their opening day defeat in Gorgie.

There were plenty who caught the eye. But perhaps none more so than O’Riley, who took to the hostile Tynecastle atmosphere to produce a stunning debut performance as he controlled the midfield.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And Hartson couldn’t help but talk up the new man after a class debut in one of our toughest fixtures of the season.

Speaking on Sky Sports Football [26/01, 10:00pm], Hartson said: “Well I think he created 8 opportunities for Celtic during the game which is a big number. I thought he showed really good strength at times, passed it well, and he just looks a fantastic footballer.

“Great strength, tidy, gets his head up, and I think for the goal he just rolls it across the face for Giakoumakis. So I think all-round he played very well and he put a lot of work into it. He thought it was intense which it was, and he had to go off unfortunately in the last 10 minutes because he covered every blade of grass. It’s a great debut for the lad, a really good first start in a Celtic shirt for him.”

Hearts 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

Hearts 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Matt O’Riley leaves Celtic fans craving more

There’s something extremely intriguing about what O’Riley brings this Celtic team. On first glance, it would appear to be a bit of everything.

He was aggressive in the challenge as he showed his ball-winning skills. Whilst he was a real attacking threat as he picked out pass after pass in the final third. Not to mention he consistently found space to exploit Hearts in and around the penalty area.

On another night, perhaps he could’ve even had a goal or 2 to his name. He certainly got into the right positions and had a couple of efforts that either went off-target or were blocked. But you can’t say it wasn’t extremely promising.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

To think he’s only 21 too. That certainly gets the excitement levels going. There’s so much development in him still to come, and given how he handled yesterday’s powderkeg fixture, Celtic fans have every right to be ecstatic.

Ange Postecoglou’s recruitment has been a rip-roaring success so far. It looks as though O’Riley could be another to add to that category too. Of course, time will tell whether he can produce on a consistent basis starting with Dundee United on Saturday.

But it’s no wonder Hartson was blown away by what he saw from the new Bhoy last night. We all were in truth!

In other news, Robbie Neilson embarrassingly still can’t give Celtic credit without gritted teeth