Grateful Kayal desperate to pay back Celtic
THERE’S only been one problem with Beram Kayal across his two years at Celtic – too little has been seen of him. That is hardly the fault of the accomplished Israeli midfielder, who has suffered ankle ligament damage, hernia problems and a broken wrist since moving to Scotland from Maccabi Haifa in a £1.25 million deal. Now, if injuries allow, the 24-year-old intends to be far more visible in Neil Lennon’s side.
Kayal, who signed improved terms last season to contract him to the club until 2015, has been linked with a £5m move to Southampton. But playing for Celtic rather than anyone else seems more on his mind at the minute. Little wonder when the opening game of this season was his first competitive start since he was clattered in the Glasgow derby last December.
“I want to be here now,” he says. “The club supported me when I was injured for six months and gave me everything, especially the gaffer. So I think it is time that I try to do the best for them. I want to stay because I enjoy it and want to give something to the club. Because of that I am not thinking about leaving [or] about rumours about the next club for me, I am just focused on being here. The important thing for me is being fit.
“The last six months were the hardest in my life. I would wake up in the morning and not be able to do the things I like to do, playing and training with the team. Now every day I wake up and say thanks to God for health.”
Lennon will also be thankful Kayal is available for Tuesday’s Champions League play-off in Sweden with Victor Wanyama suspended following his red card in Helsinki. The Israel international has been earmarked for Wanyama’s defensive midfield role and knows what is required as one of only two players in Celtic’s young squad to have experienced the group stages. As a 21-year-old with Maccabi Haifa, Kayal played in a section comprising Bayern Munich, Juventus and Bordeaux as the reward for pulling off an upset in ousting Salzburg Red Bull at the play-off stage. “We were a young side and did well to beat Salzburg, a club with a lot of money,” he says. The Israelis subsequently lost all six group games, but there was no disgrace in that.
“Bayern made it to the final that year, and Bordeaux reached the semis, so it shows how tough it was for us.” Celtic this week have to set about earning the right to have it so tough this season.
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