Leverkusen goalkeeper Hradecky hails Celtic Park after sensational shut-out
Another Bayer Leverkusen player has praised the Celtic Park atmosphere, in the form of Finnish keeper Lukas Hradecky.
Hradecky, who played at Euro 2020, was on sensational form, making acrobatic, crucial saves to shut out Celtic. The Bhoys could have had one or two goals before 20 minutes. Unfortunately, ruthless Bayer Leverkusen were more clinical on the night, scoring four times.
Simon Rolfes, Leverkusen’s Sporting Director, heralded the atmosphere before the game [Daily Record]. Jeremie Frimpong described his Celtic Park return as “electrifying” [BT Sport], and now Hradecky has joined in.
Joining a chorus of appreciation for Celtic Park, the goalkeeper said [RTL via Kicker]:
“What gave me the most joy was playing in front of full seats. Maybe that brought out the best in me.
“[The saves] were important moments when we didn’t feel the energy from the whole stadium.
“After the third goal everything was under control. It was one of my top 3 experiences in European football.”
Leverkusen goalkeeper Hradecky comments show Celtic Park is no longer a fortress
These are slightly grim assessments of Celtic Park as a place to play. Clearly, given the last decade or so of European results, opposition players just don’t fear the raucous Bhoys atmosphere.
Rather than intimidate them, it seems to spur them on. Now, none of this is to say the atmosphere at Celtic should change; it’s iconic for a reason, and it’s the very best part of being a supporter.
But Paradise isn’t a theme park. Opposition players shouldn’t be coming here to tick it off their career bucket list. The cauldron of noise should intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of those who visit.
It’s not that the supporters are the issue here; far from it. It’s the team.
When we see Celtic at their best, it’s often when they’re feeding off the energy of supporters, who are drawing the ball into the net with utter enthusiasm, constant singing and fierce backing of the team.
It doesn’t happen enough, though. Instead, it seems to be opposition, in Europe at least, who are feeding off the atmosphere even more.
That has to change, and it changes with emphatic results. Again, Celtic Park isn’t some holiday destination for footballers. It’s meant to be where Celtic play their best stuff.