Kristoffer Ajer talks up the importance of Celtic development
Brentford centre-back Kristoffer Ajer has been reminiscing about his Celtic spell as he talked up the importance of his Parkhead development.
Ajer left the Hoops in the summer to join the EPL club in a £13.5m deal [Daily Mail]. It was a move that always looked like happening given the player refused to sign a new deal in Glasgow.
The Norwegian international spent over five years at Celtic that included a formative loan spell with Kilmarnock. Despite arriving as a central midfielder, Ajer would depart a formidable centre-back and Scottish football’s best defender.
And it appears as though he isn’t quick to forget the club that made him either. He’s been talking up his spell in Glasgow and has spoken about how it was a “huge” step for him.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun, Ajer said: “Glasgow was a huge step for me. I went there as a very young guy to a city that’s football mad. I absolutely loved it but it was a very challenging period. I had never played centre-half in my whole life but I think from the first day in Celtic I was training as a centre-half.
“I came to a massive club that wants the top every single day. At the beginning, I wasn’t ready for the quality needed to play for Celtic. I went out on loan, six months to Kilmarnock, and learned how to play centre-half. I came back and then felt more ready.
“When I came to Celtic, I played as a No 10 and weighed 82.3kg on my first day at Celtic. When I came back a year later, I was 95kg. It was a lot of Scotch pies and haggis and training and then I was ready to play centre-half. I understood I had to change a lot about body type and the way I played. I was a more offensive player. To be a centre-half, especially in the UK, you really have to be very physical.”
Kristoffer Ajer clearly appreciates the importance of Celtic spell
It’s not the first time Ajer has bigged up his time in Glasgow. Even though he’s moved to the bright lights of the EPL, it’s clear he appreciates everything Celtic provided him with.
The improvement he made in Scotland, for example, was incredible. When Ajer arrived, he was a lightweight midfielder who needed to toughen up his game.
You can’t deny his year-long stint with Kilmarnock helped massively. He played as a centre-back in Ayrshire and came back ready to make a telling impact in the first-team.
Breaking through under Brendan Rodgers, Ajer gradually became our most reliable centre-back. Yes, he has a mistake in him like many footballers. But in terms of his athleticism, composure, and quality on the ball – you couldn’t pick out a better defender in Scotland.
But it was perhaps Ajer’s passion that made him such a popular player in Glasgow. Celtic fans love to see what happens on the pitch meaning something to the players. Ajer always showed his emotions on the pitch, showing what it meant to him personally after every win or defeat.
You couldn’t begrudge him his move to England. Not when you take into account the service he gave us over the last five years. Here’s hoping he goes from strength to strengthe.