What Celtic man O'Riley doesn't want to be for Denmark

By Euan Davidson

March 31, 2022

Danish might not be his first language, but Celtic star Matt O’Riley is desperate not to be the only non-speaker in the Denmark camp now he’s an U21 international.

O’Riley, born in London but with a Danish mother, made waves by switching to Denmark, who called him up for the U21 team. An England youth international while coming through the Fulham ranks, O’Riley has impressed enough at MK Dons and Celtic to get an international nod at a higher level.

His sights, of course, are set on the senior squad, and a spot in the Denmark World Cup squad. Like Marc Rieper, Morten Wieghorst and Thomas Gravesen before him, representing both Celtic and Denmark would be a significant honour for the midfielder.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

What O’Riley doesn’t want, though, is to be the odd man out at the Denmark camps. Making a sly dig at players who switch international allegiance without truly investing time in the country they’ve adopted, O’Riley said he was doing everything he could to improve his language skills.

As quoted by today’s Scottish Daily Mail [print edition 31/3, p.77], O’Riley said: “At least I’m trying.

“I do not want to be the one on the national team who does not bother to speak Danish, so I do my best.

“When I come home to Scotland, I also speak Danish with my mother. My grandmother is also coming soon, so I will speak Danish with her, too. In a year or two my Danish can be almost perfect, that would be good.”

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Celtic star Matt O’Riley showing commendable attitude for Denmark

You like to hear this from Celtic players.

The idea that O’Riley would coast through, rely on other people to know English and just try to collect caps? It’s alien, it just wouldn’t happen with him.

That’s a good thing. Ange Postecoglou has built a squad of players who are eager to try new things, expand their knowledge (either tactically or outside of football) and take on big challenges. It’s not a squad not lacking in ambition or intelligence.

Photo by VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP via Getty Images

It’s also encouraging that O’Riley has family around him in Glasgow to help ease that transition. On the surface, you might think he’s only moving up from Milton Keynes. But the pressure of playing for Celtic is absolutely enormous; having every tool in your arsenal to make life off the pitch easy is a necessity.

All in, the guy sounds like a great lad. He has ever since he arrived at Celtic, and now with Denmark, he’s embarking on new challenges.

Amongst those is becoming a polyglot. Fair play to him!

Read more: The class question Ange Postecoglou keeps asking his Celtic squad behind the scenes