Paul Lambert sends rallying cry to experienced Celtic heads pre-Betis meeting

By Euan Davidson

September 14, 2021

Paul Lambert, a Champions League winner and former Celtic captain, has thrown the gauntlet to the “big” and experienced Hoops players to step up on Thursday.

Lambert, who captained the Bhoys between 2002 and 2004, knows all about succeeding in Europe. The ex-Borussia Dortmund midfielder won the Champions League in Germany, while also leading the Hoops through massive European nights.

Now, Lambert says it’s up to the big names and experienced players to lead just as he did. Betis, off the back of a 2-1 win against Granada, represent a chance for the Hoops to lay down a European marker after a grim 20-21 campaign.

Speaking ahead of Celtic’s visit to Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarín, Lambert said [Scotsman]:

“Without a shadow of a doubt it is on these kind of nights that it needs to be when the big players step up and step forwards.

“I’m pretty sure that’s what will happen on Thursday in Seville. Joe Hart has been through it before, there’s the likes of Callum [McGregor] who’s a national team player and has been through it.

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“Cameron-Vickers has played in big games with Tottenham and knows all about it as well.

“It’s about those bigger players having the ability to keep a cool head on things when you go into games like this one.

“It will be a helluva tough game going to Betis. It will be a helluva tough group as well [with Bayer Leverkusen and Ferencvaros]. But at the same time it will be great for Celtic to be a part of it.”

Paul Lambert is right about experience, but young Celtic figures can make their mark, too

For sure, the likes of Joe Hart and Callum McGregor will be integral to how well Celtic do on Thursday.

However, with a very youthful squad at his disposal, Ange Postecoglou knows it’s about bringing the best out of everyone. While the older players have been there and done it, the youngsters need to head out onto the pitch without any fear.

Moreover, they need the knowledge that they have what it takes to beat an obstinate Betis side.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

With the likes of Liel Abada, Adam Montgomery and 22-year-old David Turnbull seeming nailed-on to feature, it’s not just about experience. It’s about fearlessness, being able to take players on and play progressively.

Lambert has seen it all, though. And he’s right, leadership will be vital. Compared to last season, the squad has more than its fair share of charismatic players who can bring nous and an experienced perspective.

That should serve Celtic well.

In other news: Report: Mexican international Diego Lainez to miss Betis vs Celtic