Hatem Abd Elhamed has spoken about how the deafening noise at Celtic Park rattled the Hapoel Be’er Sheva players.
Back in 2016, Celtic were drawn against the Israeli side in the Champions League playoff round. It would prove to be one of our toughest ties in recent memory too. Elhamed wasn’t featuring for Be’er Sheva at the time, but there were still some fine talents such as Ben Sahar, Lucio Maranhao, and Maor Melikson in the squad.
The Hoops would lose the second leg 2-0 in Israel. Fortunately, however, the atmosphere and performance at Celtic Park blew Hapoel away in a 5-2 win for Celtic. It meant the Hoops progressed with a 5-4 aggregate win, and it proved the end of the road for Be’er Sheva.
And Elhamed, who signed for Celtic from Hapoel, has said plenty of Be’er Sheva players have been getting in touch and telling him all about the shivers they got from Parkhead. Speaking in the Celtic View (Volume 55, Issue 4, page 22+23), here’s what Elhamed had to say.
“Once my friends at Be’er Sheva heard that I was signing for Celtic, they told me the atmopshere at Celtic Park on European nights is amazing. They played here in 2016 in a Champions League qualifier and they said that they were shaking in the first 20 minutes.
“When I visited Celtic Park during the Nomme Kalju first leg, it was so exciting for me. To have the chance to see the supporters and the atmosphere up close was amazing, and now I can’t wait to have that experience as a player.”
Celtic Park remains a legend in Europe
It’s difficult to say Celtic Park is the fortress it once was. Heck, we would be straight up lying if we tried to insist it. But the one constant has been the atmosphere generated by the supporters.
It doesn’t matter how we’re doing domestically. It doesn’t matter whether we’re favourites or not, and it certainly doesn’t matter who we’re playing in the Champions League. European nights at Celtic Park continue to deliver when it comes to the noise.
The supporters consistently do their bit for the club in European competition. Celtic could do with paying them back in some of their European matches at Celtic Park this season too. Victories over Sarajevo and Kalju have been a positive start, and another over Cluj would be most welcome.
For Elhamed, his first experience of playing in a European atmosphere in Glasgow could be quicker than he thinks. When Cluj comes to Glasgow, Parkhead will be rocking in two weeks’ time. You would strongly fancy Elhamed to be in the squad and signed up to UEFA as being available to compete.
We’ll likely get our first taster of what he’s capable of this Saturday against St Johnstone. And, with a bit of luck, he proves to be that long-awaited upgrade on Mikael Lustig that we’ve been waiting on for too long.