Hatem Abd Elhamed wants to be an important player for Celtic

By David Walton

August 8, 2019

Hatem Abd Elhamed’s goal at Celtic is to become an important player as well as securing Champions League football.

The Israeli right-back arrived at Parkhead, and the signing was immediately criticised by some supporters. Elhamed played naturally as a centre-back last season, and that seemed to frustrate plenty.

But his opening two performances against St Johnstone and CFR Cluj have proven that he has it in him to play in the Hoops. He was terrific in Romania yesterday in particular, as he really grew into the jersey and stood up to be counted.

Hatem Abd Elhamed’s performances are there for all to see (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

And as he spoke to Celtic TV after the match, Elhamed outlined what he wants from his time at Parkhead.

“My last game before last week was three months ago. I did my best (against Cluj). I’m trying to give 100% in every game, in every action. I’m very happy to start well with Celtic. It was very important for me.

“I’m expecting the next matches to get better and better, and for me to get closer to being 100% fit.

“It’s my dream come true. I can’t wait to play at Celtic Park in the Champions League. My first start (vs St Johnstone) was important in making me an important player. I came here to be an important player – one of the best. So I try my best every week, and that’s what I want to do in the next games.”

Elhamed’s goal has already been achieved

It’s fair to say that the Israeli full-back is already vital to the Celtic cause. Elhamed has been absolutely fantastic in his first two games in a Celtic jersey, and we all hope for more of the same. For a player coming into a totally different culture and level of football, he’s integrated superbly.

Many players will likely be rested for Saturday’s trip to Fir Park. Hopefully, Elhamed isn’t one of them. He’s still trying to build up his fitness levels further, and Saturday is too big a game to not feature our number one right-back.

Elhamed is out to right the wrongs of his last spell in Europe (William Van Hecke/Corbis via Getty Images)

Anthony Ralston came on against St Johnstone and failed to seriously impress. He’s struggling for confidence himself at the moment, and now isn’t the time to throw him into big domestic matches.

Finally, we seem to have some real productivity down the right-hand side. Elhamed proved how effective he can be when linking up with James Forrest for our equaliser in Cluj.

Neil Lennon has found his Mikael Lustig replacement (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Granted, there were a couple of moments where he seemed to be a little caught out positionally. But for a second game in such demanding conditions, he came through it very well.

It’s clear that he’s up for the fight ahead of him, and he will be when Neil Lennon brings in another right-back for competition. But if someone comes in and makes a bigger impact than Elhamed, it will be a huge surprise.