Stefan Johansen left unsurprised by Matt O'Riley's strong impact at Celtic

By Lewis Laird

February 8, 2023

Former Celtic midfielder Stefan Johansen was left unsurprised to see Matt O’Riley’s major impact at the Hoops after getting glimpses of him at Fulham.

The Norwegian had a successful three-year spell at Celtic Park between 2014-2016, winning three Scottish Premiership titles and a Scottish League Cup.

He was also named Celtic player of the year and the PFA Scotland players’ player of the year for his performances in the 2014/25 campaign.

Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Since his departure, the 32-year-old has spent the last few years of his playing career in the English leagues, and he currently plays his football with Queens Park Rangers.

He left Celtic in 2016 to join Fulham on a three-year deal, and during his stay at Craven Cottage, he came across a current member of Ange Postecoglou’s squad.

That man was Matt O’Riley, who, at the time, was aiming to rise through the ranks at the club and make an impact at first team level.

Although Fulham were hopeful of keeping the Celtic midfielder, he made the brave call of choosing now to sign a new contract, joining MK Dons, which eventually led to Parkhead.

Johansen may not have played much alongside O’Riley at first-team level. However, he has been left unsurprised by the impact he has made at Celtic after showcasing his quality in training.

He said [Celtic View podcast]: “Matt (O’Riley) was really good; great kid coming up through the Fulham ranks, and I think you seen in training his qualities were definitely there.

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“But his work ethic as well was brilliant. As I said, a top, top guy who works his socks off every time he had the chance.

“It’s probably a little bit like the same as me at Celtic, he needed a new fresh start after Fulham because he was in and out of the first team.

“And then to go to a club like Celtic, it’s obviously massive. When I’ve watched him, I think he’s done brilliantly, and I’m not surprised because the talent is there. He’s a top guy in general.

“So I’m very happy for him that he is succeeding there.”

Matt O’Riley was always destined for the top level

Whenever you hear old coaches, such as Peter Grant, or teammates talk about O’Riley’s time in the Fulham academy, they don’t have a bad word to say.

Photo by Jeff Holmes/Getty Images

The Danish midfielder was clearly a top prospect and destined to play at the top level of football.

He is now living out that dream after playing for the Hoops in the UEFA Champions League group stages this campaign.

In just over a year in Glasgow, O’Riley has already had a huge impact at the club after joining from the English League One side.

That might have come as a surprise to some at first, but not to some of his old teammates like Stefan Johansen, who appear delighted to see him performing for Celtic.

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