CELTIC fans expecting new signing Saidy Janko to be a marauding full-back who will add healthy competition to the defence will be pleasantly surprised to learn that the Swiss teenager has been primed as a flying winger by the legendary Ryan Giggs.
The 19-year-old learned from the Welsh master during his two years with Manchester United after being plucked from FC Zurich, where he had been spotted playing a starring role in a youth tournament.
A lot of players are afraid to leave because it’s Man UnitedSaidy Janko
In addition, Janko has benefited considerably from the tutelage of former Celtic manager Neil Lennon during a 10-game loan spell at Bolton Wanderers.
The teenager can also cite Darren Fletcher and Nicky Butt as major influences, and it is Celtic who are set to reap the benefit as the Swiss prospect took the brave decision to leave Old Trafford and head to Glasgow, having been suitably wooed by Ronny Deila.
It was generally assumed that Janko would be vying with Mikael Lustig and Adam Matthews but it seems that Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest et al should be looking over their shoulders.
Janko said: “I played more as a winger than a right-back in the last two seasons and I have played on the left as well – left-back or left-winger.
“I can rise to the challenge. There is competition everywhere and with competition you push your team-mates and everyone gets better.
“It is special to get advice from Ryan Giggs [pictured right] We are different kinds of players. He knew I was not the same as him so he told me what I should do. He was very good. He always spoke with the young players when we first got involved.”
The teenager added: “It was the same with Nicky Butt.
These two were great guys. You could see when they trained with us that they still have it. Top class.
“It was like a big family. Everyone helped everyone else. Butt, Giggs and Warren Joyce, the under-21 coach, helped me.
“Fletch was very good with young players. I didn’t speak to him about the move but we always had a laugh with him. If he saw I didn’t do something right he would always try to coach me, try to help me, and I appreciated that.
“He was one of those guys who when anyone had a problem, they would go to Fletch. He was there for you. He is an inspiration, even more now when you think about what he has been through. You have to respect the man.”
Janko was snapped up by David Moyes in the summer of 2013 after an outstanding performance in a youth competition hosted by FC Zurich.
He maintains that if he had stayed with United he might have forced his way into Louis van Gaal’s plans at some stage but he was impatient to play regularly and felt Celtic were the perfect fit.
He said: “At first I couldn’t believe it when I found out Manchester United wanted me. We played against them in the Blue Stars tournament and I did well.
“Then they came up to me two weeks later with an invitation letter and I couldn’t say no.
“After that I had a really good first two years. In the first year I got Reserve Player of the Year and I was happy with that.
“Then in the second season I went to Bolton and that was a great experience to play first team football in the Championship, which is a good league, and work for a good coach like Neil Lennon.
“We didn’t really speak about Celtic, it was all about performance because the Championship is very hard. He’s a great guy – a very good person.
“Man United is a great club but a lot of players are afraid to leave because it’s Man United.
“I didn’t think I wouldn’t get a chance at Manchester United – I just wanted a new challenge.
“I think Celtic is the perfect club for me at this stage of my career to develop.
“Hopefully, I can have many good years here. I want to win as many titles as possible. I think with Celtic I can do that because it’s a great club.
“I know about Celtic. It’s a huge club right over Europe. The supporters are great. It’s a great club with great history.
“I just want to play football, to give everything, to give my best. Hopefully that is good enough for the Celtic fans and I am happy as well. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Coincidentally, Janko will have the chance to meet Moyes next Friday when Real Sociedad face Celtic in a friendly at St Mirren Park – but this determined young man does not dwell on the past. He said: “I’ll be focused on the game but, if I could see him and say hello, I definitely will.”