What Ryan Christie and Kris Ajer have discussed since leaving Celtic

By Euan Davidson

March 19, 2022

Ryan Christie says he and Kristoffer Ajer have agreed that their experience with Celtic has equipped them with the mental tools to succeed elswhere.

Christie and Ajer both left in the summer after impressive stints with Celtic. Scotland international Christie went to Bournemouth in the Championship. Ajer, having been linked with clubs like AC Milan, ended up moving to Premier League upstarts Brentford. Both have become fan favourites since joining their respect English clubs.

It’s success and pressure at Celtic, though, that’s set them up to succeed. The typically forthright Christie has explained that though he felt it was right to leave Parkhead, he’s a far better player for his experience.

Photo by Robin Jones – AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

In a wide-ranging interview with The Times, Christie said [Times]: “I’ve spoken to Kris Ajer, who I’m still friends with, and some of the other boys about this.

“One thing about playing for Celtic is that, once you’ve been there and played for the club, and you’ve known the pressure to win Old Firm games and cup finals, that sets you up so well for anything new you are walking into. The truth is, you’d do well to face a game of any more pressure than what you’d known at Celtic.

“That experience at Celtic was invaluable. It set me in good stead moving forward to this new challenge. In fact, it was something I wanted to bring with me to Bournemouth: the desperation to do well and win the league. I’ve hoped that my experience of doing that with Celtic would show.”

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Whether it’s Ryan Christie or Kris Ajer, many former Celtic favourites have gone on to great things due to Hoops learning experience

The most obvious example of any ex-Celtic player thriving is surely Virgil van Dijk.

When he moved to Southampton, he’d garnered European experience. He’d played in title-winning sides, was given the opportunity to flourish, developed all aspects of his game and had the pressure of expectation on him. That served him enormously well; he settled immediately to life in the Premier League. Now he’s a superstar.

Henrik Larsson enjoyed his peak years at Celtic. It was almost laughable how easily he adapted to life after exiting Paradise. Champions League titles, Premier League titles and La Liga titles all came in his mid-thirties.

Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

The same can’t be said of Christie or Ajer just yet, but there’s no doubt they’re far better players for having been at Celtic. This doesn’t mean we should be jumping for joy about Celtic being a great learning experience, only for players to do well elsewhere.

But it does mean that Celtic has obvious attractive traits for developing players. And, let’s face it – the pressure cooker at Paradise is like nowhere else. The expectation on players from the moment they arrive is enormous; meet those standards, and the supporters will take to you.

That should, by rights, set you up for anything.

The Scottish Premiership remains perennially undervalued outside of Scotland. But its unique environment, especially at Celtic, has turned raw materials into gems.

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