'Very hard time in Glasgow'; Hatem Abd Elhamed talks about why he left Celtic

By John McGinley

February 22, 2021

Former Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed has opened up on his exit from the club to former side Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

The Israeli international was signed by Neil Lennon in 2019. He was initially trusted as a reliable defender on the right flank and centre of defence.

However, injury, confidence and pandemic problems all played their part in making his stay at the Bhoys difficult.

Eventually, he made a personal decision to pursue a return to his homeland, to be with his family.

Speaking about his move for the first time, Elhamed said, as quoted by The Daily Record: “I have mixed feelings about coming back home.

“I had a very hard time in Glasgow because I was alone due to the Covid restrictions. I was not allowed to go anywhere and I had to be home all day. But I didn’t return just for that, I only came back because Hapoel are a big club with huge ambitions.

“I had a very successful season and a half at Celtic professionally. But I had a period of injury of three to four months that halted my progress, which was disappointing.

“Personally, I am delighted to return to a club I have a big connection with and I was very happy to see some fans too.”

There’s an argument that Celtic could be doing more to help foreign players settle in Glasgow. Elhamed isn’t the only one who has struggled at the club over the last 12 months. Though, there is no doubt that the pandemic has exacerbated problems.

Former Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed / (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Still, it’s something the club do need to look at as part of their review into the football department.

We need to create a welcoming and sustainable culture at Lennoxtown that allows players from all over the world to work in harmony, pandemic or not.

I’m not quite sure we have the specialists in place needed to facilitate that.

In other news, Neil Lennon has provided an update on Greg Taylor’s injury.