LIAM Henderson has revealed his loan spell with Rosenborg cost him a league winners’ medal with Celtic.
But the teenage midfielder is confident that the experience he gained during his three months with Norway’s most successful club will help him enjoy a sustained spell of gathering silverware with the Scottish champions in the years to come.
Henderson’s temporary switch to Rosenborg proved beneficial as he made 11 appearances and scored three goals for the Trondheim side. He left them at the top of the Norwegian League and will be in line for a winners’ medal if they remain there when their season ends in November.
The 19-year-old played just nine league games under Ronny Deila for Celtic last season, meaning he missed out on a Scottish Premiership medal by the narrowest of margins. But Henderson has no regrets about the Celtic manager’s decision to send him out on loan to his homeland.
“I needed to play one more league game for Celtic to get a medal,” said Henderson. “That’s the chance I took, I missed out on a medal to go out there. The manager says for the long-term it will be great for me and I totally agree with him as I’ve learned a lot and I’m ready to come back into the Celtic team now.
“It was a really good three months. I learned a lot in such a short period of time that maybe I wouldn’t have back here.
“It was a great experience, playing in a different league and in a foreign country. Living by myself, I think I’ve grown up and matured much more than I would have done back here.
“I was cooking, cleaning, everything. It was tough but I managed to get through it – I even cook for my mum back home now! I still stay with my mum and dad in Scotland, so it was a big change for me in Norway. They were on FaceTime every day, constantly asking me how I was. My mum didn’t give me tips on cooking, she just wanted to make sure I didn’t burn the apartment down!
“I had to be independent and it also made me realise what I missed back here and how much I want to play for Celtic. You realise when you’re away from the club how big it actually is.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better in Norway, though. Everyone at Rosenborg treated me really well and they are great professionals. There was also a lot of interest in Celtic from the people I met, especially with Ronny Deila and Stefan Johansen being at the club.”
Henderson is currently staking his claim for a place in Deila’s plans for Celtic’s Champions League campaign which starts next Wednesday with the first leg of the second qualifying round tie against Stjarnan of Iceland.
Nadir Ciftci could be in line to feature in that tie if, as expected, Celtic complete the £1.5 million signing of the Turkish striker from Dundee United. Ciftci was at Celtic Park with agent Pierre van Hooijdonk yesterday to finalise personal terms.
“He’ll be a good addition,” observed Henderson. “He’s scored a lot of goals for United and is a big strong guy with a lot of skill.”
Celtic did wrap up the signing of Belgian international goalkeeper Logan Bailly from OH Leuven yesterday for a fee of around £300,000. The 29-year-old has signed a three-year contract and is relishing the challenge of competing with Craig Gordon for a first-team place.
“I have a lot of respect for Craig because he is a great goalkeeper with a lot of experience so it will be nice to be training with him,” Bailly told the Celtic website. “I can still learn a lot from him. I think I’m in my prime just now as 29 or 30 years old is a great age for a goalkeeper. I hope that my career is starting now and I still have a few years left to play football. When you see Celtic from the outside, you know it is a big team but when you are here you realise that it is a lot bigger.”