Matt O'Riley reflects on 'surreal' Celtic experience as he eyes late run for World Cup

By Lewis Laird

November 2, 2022

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley has admitted that his first ten months at Parkhead have been a ‘surreal’ experience since his arrival from MK Dons.

The 21-year-old joined from the English League One side in the January transfer window before slotting straight into Ange Postecoglou’s midfield three.

After a brilliant start to life at Celtic in his opening six months, the former Fulham man has carried that form into the 2022/23 campaign and now finds himself as a versatile cog in the squad.

Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Later on this evening, the midfielder is expected to take his place in the Hoops’ starting lineup at the Bernabeu as we take on current European champions Real Madrid.

Just over ten months on from his move to Paradise that is quite the upgrade from his spell playing in the third tier of English football.

And performing in the Champions League looks to be an experience that O’Riley has loved, producing a player-of-the-match display in his last outing against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Reflecting on his time at Celtic in 2022, the Danish under-21 international stated that it has been a ‘surreal’ experience being given the chance to showcase what he is capable of at the top level of European football.

He said [Celtic FC]: “When I sit down and reflect on where I am and where I was eight or nine months ago, a lot of things have happened to me.

“Good things, obviously, and being here is surreal in a sense, but at the same time, I feel it’s a good opportunity for me to show what I can do at this level.”

Photo by Thor Wegner/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Not only has the move to Celtic opened doors to O’Riley in a club sense but also on the international stage after earning his first caps for the Denmark under-21s side.

And with the opportunity to impress at the top level in the Champions League this season, O’Riley is hopeful he is in the Denmark first-team coach’s mind as he eyes up a late spot in their squad for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

He said [The Herald]: “We find out who is in the Denmark squad on the 7th. There’s a chance that I will go, and there’s a chance that I won’t. I’m not exactly sure what will happen.

“I’m in a good position to show what I can do. But I am not trying to put too much pressure on myself. I think I have performed pretty well throughout this season in general, consistency-wise, so this is another chance to kind of add to the foundations I have built, and if all goes well, I go.

“I suppose I can plant a seed in the coach’s mind at the 11th hour, but I hope I have planted enough seeds to show what I am about at this stage. I’ll try and do the same. I always do. We’ll see what happens.”

O’Riley looking to top terrific 2022 off with Celtic and Denmark.

Photo by Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

After such an incredible year for Matt O’Riley, the midfielder will be looking to end it off in style with both club and country.

Tonight, he will take to an iconic footballing arena, and a good performance for the Hoops against the European champions could help boost his hopes for a surprise World Cup spot.

Celtic’s Champions League campaign might have been a disappointment. But there have been positive aspects, and O’Riley will be looking to add to those positives later on this evening.

Whilst there might be a slight focus on Denmark in the back of his mind, the Celtic star has made it clear on several occasions that his main focus is on his club football.

So, fingers crossed, we can see O’Riley continue his solid displays as part of the Celtic midfield three and end his year off with a fantastic high, which all started with his arrival at Parkhead back in January.

In other news, 4 changes, defensive comeback; Celtic Predicted XI vs Real Madrid.