STEVEN Mouyokolo is determined to seize the chance to revive his career at Celtic after discovering a new sense of perspective on both life and football during almost a year and a half on the sidelines.
The French central defender, who became Neil Lennon’s third summer signing when he penned a one-year contract earlier this week, has not played a competitive fixture since suffering a cruciate knee injury 17 months ago.
Mouyokolo terminated his contract at Wolves earlier this year and completed his rehabilitation before spending a trial period with Celtic in May. Asked back by Lennon for their pre-season tour of Germany earlier this month, he did enough to persuade the manager to take him on. Once coveted by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, the 26-year-old had English Premier League experience at Hull City and now reflects that he once took success for granted.
“I went from Ligue 2 in France to the English Premier League by the time I was 21,” said Mouyokolo. “I had three moves and sometimes you just think it is going to get better all the time. You don’t realise how lucky you are. The injury hits you like a wake-up call. I now appreciate every single training session. Sometimes you see people going to training and think ‘Oh, it’s going to be hard today’. But I just try to enjoy it as much as possible.
“The injury and rehab were hard and made me realise how lucky we are to play football in big stadiums and be well paid for that. We can’t complain. We have a good life and, being out of that for a while, I was able to see people going to their work first thing in the morning, people who have much harder lives than ours. It made me determined – once I got back – to enjoy it because everything comes to an end. I’ve seen that.
“I am pleased to finally get the deal done at Celtic. It’s a relief because I have been with the club since 20 June and I was also here for a week at the end of last season.
“The biggest reason I have come to Celtic is that I have the trust of the manager. That is really important to me. I like to work in a trustful relationship. I’m really grateful to him for bringing me here. I have the chance to play football again and that was my main goal.
“I had other options, but Celtic invited me to spend time with them at the end of last season, then asked me back at the start of this one, so I told my agent to make them the priority.”