Kristoffer Ajer praises Celtic coach as 'one of the most important people' in his development

By Lewis Laird

May 9, 2022

Former Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer has credited current Hoops coach John Kennedy as the ‘most important person’ for the development of his career outside of his family.

The Norwegian internationalist joined the club at just 17-years of age under Ronny Deila before going on to become a regular in the side under Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon.

After enjoying a successful spell with the club for around five years, Ajer completed a move south of the border to join English Premier League side Brentford.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Arriving in Glasgow at such a young age, it would have been tough for the defender to settle.

But Ajer has had some great coaches and role models throughout his career so far.

Speaking with the Brentford website, the Norwegian recently opened up on the early stages of his Celtic career and was full of praise for long-term coach John Kennedy, crediting him as the most important person in his development as a player, except for his father.

“My parents lived with me for my first six months in Scotland, which meant everything,” he said.

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“I had to transition from being a young boy playing every minute back home in Norway to not playing a minute at Celtic.

“It was an important period for me to understand the rhythm of First Team football at a top club. For six months, I basically slept at the training ground.

“I worked so hard with John Kennedy, the First Team Coach at Celtic. Next to my dad, he’s been the most important person for my development. He helped me so much.

“When I came to Celtic, I did a sprint test and did well. Brendan Rodgers wanted defenders who were comfortable on the ball, so that’s why the change happened.

“I grew up playing in midfield – I thought it would help with my development – but I always knew I’d eventually become a centre-half.

“I grew up playing in midfield, but I always knew I’d eventually become a centre-half.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

One disappointing season made some fans forget about how good a coach Kennedy really is

Several players have praised Kennedy for his work as a coach at Celtic, including Ajer, on multiple occasions.

Of course, last season was disappointing in the way things ended, and Kennedy would have had his part to play in that.

However, it was easy to forget how much success the former Hoops defender has been a part of in the dugout during four different management reigns, including under Ange Postecoglou.

Ajer is now playing at arguably one of the highest levels in football, and yet Kennedy is still the one he is full of praise for.

It is great to hear that former players see and appreciate what Celtic and the coaches at the club have done for their careers despite moving on.

Kennedy has shown his worth once again in the dugout this season alongside Postecoglou, who has also been full of praise for his work at the club.

In other news, what Ange Postecoglou and Craig Gordon said to each other after Celtic beat Hearts.