Hearts player addresses class post-match chat with Ange after Celtic defeat

By David Walton

May 3, 2022

Hearts star Nathaniel Atkinson has stated that he was approached by Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou after a recent loss to the Hoops and was given words of encouragement.

The Hoops have faced the Jambos 4 times this season and have come out on top in 3 of them. The only loss to Robbie Neilson’s men came on matchday 1 of the Premiership season.

Hearts full-back Cammy Devlin told the Sydney Morning Herald back in January that Ange had spoken to him after the Bhoys’ 1-0 win in December. The Celtic boss hailed his progress and a player and urged him to kick on.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

And it turns out Postecoglou did the same with Atkinson, who only arrived at Tynecastle several months ago. Ahead of the final meeting between the sides this season at Parkhead, the Hearts star has reflected on that particular January night in which Celtic ran out 2-1 winners in Edinburgh:

As quoted by the Edinburgh Evening News, Atkinson said: “Every player wants to play in the biggest games on the biggest occasion. Those two [Celtic and Rangers] are probably the biggest of the season.

“He [Ange] was the Socceroos coach back in the day when I was in the under-19s. He would come and watch our games. My second game for Hearts was against Celtic and he just said ‘hi’.

“He told me to keep working hard because we’re all Australian and it’s tough coming over here. We all support each other.”

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Hearts clash sets up poetic opportunity for Celtic and Ange

Atkinson wasn’t at Tynecastle when Hearts beat Celtic on opening day. A Hoops side that had yet to undergo that vast majority of the rebuild that was still to ensue. Back then, ludicrous predictions were being thrown around about where we would end up come the end of the season.

Hearts, as you would expect, took plenty of enjoyment from the result regardless. Their sporting director even stated in October that they had a chance of winning the league [The Athletic]. Yet it turns out they’re 25 points behind us in and still consider it a class season.

That shows the true standard of where Hearts are at just now. Actually competing with Celtic for the title is a target that remains miles away. Certainly, if you’re talking about the reality of their situation when it comes to consistency over the course of a season.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

And that will be proven on Saturday if Celtic beat them for a 4th time this year. Ange can effectively wrap up the title against the side that sparked so many doubts about him after matchday 1. It wouldn’t get much sweeter than that.

Celtic, of course, will know that they can’t rest on their laurels. Rangers on Sunday proved that nothing can be taken for granted even if we did avoid defeat.

Atkinson and Devlin may be supporting Ange in general, but they’ll be hell-bent on ensuring it’s a dark day for him this weekend. Something totally unthinkable from a Celtic perspective as we finally look to take that final big step.

In other news, Report: Ex Celtic man Roy Keane unlikely to return to Scottish football with Hibs