Matt O'Riley lifts lid on 'unique' dressing room culture at Celtic; who he is closest to
Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley has talked up the ‘unique’ atmosphere within the Parkhead dressing room, which has contributed to the Hoops’ success this season.
The 21-year-old joined last January from English League One side MK Dons and was quickly seen as a real coup for the club during the winter window.
O’Riley’s arrival marked stage two of Ange Postecoglou’s plan last season, which catapulted Celtic towards the Premiership title after a brilliant second half of the campaign.
The Denmark U21 internationalist was thrown into the thick of things at Parkhead, making his first start in the 2-1 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle shortly after the winter break.
Not long after that game, the midfielder was a key component of the midfield which blew Glasgow rivals Rangers away in the famous 3-0 win in the East End of Glasgow.
It could have been easy for many young players arriving at the club to buckle under that sort of pressure. However, O’Riley thrived and became a fan favourite of the Celtic supporters.
The midfielder has now detailed the ‘unique’ atmosphere among the players at the club and spoke about some of the friendships he has made, which helped contribute to the success at Celtic this season.
He said [Sun Sport]: “I genuinely felt at home within three days. Genuinely. The first day, you’re a bit nervous, but I’d already started my first game after something like two days. That helps when you’re thrown into the event, and if you do well, you earn respect from other people. That’s kind of what happened, and from then on, it’s been very easy to settle and make friends.
“I’ve already genuinely got a few of my best mates at the club, which is pretty cool. I hang around with Carl, Anthony Ralston, Josip. But then again, I honestly probably hang out with half the team, which shows enough about our culture. There are guys like Liel Abada, and everyone is very approachable.
“Even if we have a rare night out together as a team, everyone is there, and you can speak to anyone, which I think is quite unique in this day and age. There’s usually quite a lot of cliques, but at Celtic, I feel like I could be sat at a dinner table with any of them and have a good time, which is cool.
“I think that translates onto the pitch as well. You see how we gel so nicely. Throughout most games, that’s the way we are off the pitch as well. We’re very open and relaxed. Even people like Callum McGregor, who from the outside might have this persona of being the captain and leader, is a very nice guy.”
Tight knit group will only grow closer next season
After the lows of the 2019/20 campaign, not many would have seen a league and cup double on the horizon for Ange Postecoglou and his squad last season.
However, they did precisely that, with the Celtic manager building his side from the group up since coming to Glasgow from the other side of the world last June.
The Celtic boss deserves huge credit for his role to play in creating a brilliant atmosphere around the place and within the dressing room.
When Postecoglou first arrived in Glasgow, he made it clear he wasn’t just looking for players with ability but also great characters who can contribute to the team.
There is no better example of that than Joe Hart, who has been a breath of fresh air since coming to the club.
This group will only grow closer too when they head off to pre-season training in Austria this summer, and they will be hungry to achieve more success going into next season.