John Kennedy opens up on behind-the-scenes feelings ahead of Celtic's Champions League return

By Lewis Laird

August 24, 2022

Celtic assistant boss John Kennedy has stated that he and the Hoops squad are excited to see the return of ‘special’ Champions League nights at Parkhead.

The former Hoops defender has experienced plenty of incredible nights at Paradise as both a player and coach.

This season, both Celtic and Kennedy are preparing to make their return to Europe’s biggest club competition for the first time since 2017.

Photo by Kristian Skeie – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Celtic supporters don’t have to wait too long to discover who Ange Postecoglou’s side will be facing on their return to the group stages, with the draw set to take place tomorrow evening.

Fans and even players such as Callum McGregor have been discussing potential opponents that they would love the Hoops to come up against.

Speaking in an interview ahead of tomorrow’s draw, Kennedy shared the excitement those at the club have ahead of the return of Champions League nights, stating that the ‘hysteria’ is already beginning to build.

The 39-year-old is looking forward to seeing how this team matches up with some of the best football sides in the world but is also remaining focused on the task at hand before the Bhoys’ match-ups in the Champions League.

He said [Celtic TV]: “It’s great because it’s something we have missed. I think when you see for yourself and become part of it, it’s special. It’s one of the greatest nights you’ll see at Celtic Park.

“So, I think having that again, the hysteria is building, and everyone is looking forward to the draw to see what we get and everything else.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

“But, again, for us, as much as it’s exciting, we have to keep our minds on the job because the draw will come, that’ll be what it is, but we’ve got games to play before that comes around, and it’s a bit cliche, but it’s one game at a time for us because football can change every so quick;y, it always keeps you in check.

“So, we have to focus on what we can effect, which is the here and now, which is obviously the weekend. But, certainly, in the back of your mind, you’re looking forward to what the Champions League draw brings.”

He continued: “Whoever we get, it’s going to be tough. That’s the reality at this level; every team will be strong. There will obviously be the big ties, the big clubs who maybe some of the fans want.

“For us, whatever gets put in front of us, we’ll attack in the same manner, and we will test ourselves against the best; that’s what we are here to do.

“It’ll be a real good gauge of where we are at. We know ourselves, in-house, that we’re in a good place and have had a solid start to the season. But we still know there is room for improvement. From the players to the staff, everyone knows there is room to grow.

“And certainly, when you come up against the best teams, they’ll test that. They will give you real clarity of exactly where you are at.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Champions League buzz beginning to build at Celtic ahead of the draw; Kennedy’s experience will be valuable.

Kennedy is one of the few remaining members of the staff and playing squad at the club who were here to experience the Hoops’ last Champions League outing around five years ago.

So, with that experience of both coaching and playing on these European nights, Kennedy will know the excitement that is building around the place.

It is really exciting to see the return of Champions League football to Paradise, and with the draw taking place tomorrow afternoon, it is natural for anticipation to build amongst the players.

Having experienced faces like Kennedy and Harry Kewell, who won the competition during his playing days, will be crucial to help the squad prepare for those special nights, as well as keeping their focus on domestic action.

Like Kennedy, I am extremely excited to see this squad of players test themselves against some of the best sides in the world over the next few months!

In other news, Referee set to take charge of first Celtic Scottish Premiership clash in 18 months.