Benjamin Siegrist: Celtic keeper's Instagram rise, why he'll need to change and his lights moment

Life changed in an instant for Benjamin Siegrist when he signed for Celtic. Or, rather, changed in the world of Instagram.

Benjamin Siegrist is looking forward to developing his game.
Benjamin Siegrist is looking forward to developing his game.

The Swiss keeper built up 6,000 followers on the platform across four years with Dundee United. Within hours of being confirmed as the Scottish champions’ newest arrival on Tuesday evening, the 30-year-old had more than doubled that number. The explosion in exposure inescapable with his new employment doesn’t faze him. “It was crazy,” Siegrist said of his boom in followers. “But that’s one of the things that come with being at a historic football club. So, we’ll take that as it comes.”

Yet, he is far from blase about the assault on the senses performing in front of a going-batty Celtic Park can trigger, having experienced that in a paradoxically detached, yet enveloped, fashion. The fanbase that Siegrist how has backing him developed a grudging respect as he appeared to reserve some of his finest United displays for games against Celtic. In January, his exploits seemed set to earn the Tannadice men a second successive draw in Glasgow’s east end, only for Liel Abada to pop up with a winner that proved a pivotal moment in the title race. It also elicited scenes that left the keeper in awe, as well as agonised. As he explains in articulating why he relished such games.

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“I mean, have you seen the stadium? It’s pretty special,” he said. “I remember losing here in the second-to-last minute and the lights were going on, the crowd were going crazy. I was gutted, I was really gutted, but I looked up and I went, ‘this is pretty special here’. It’s just exciting for me to be here, and I want to be part of it, be part of how the manager wants to take the club forward. Working here with the goalkeepers’ union, and working with the best players, it’s going to be really exciting.”

Not daunting, as could be assumed with Siegrist having joined as understudy to Celtic No 1 Joe Hart in Ange Postecoglou’s set-up. “I had that phonecall with the manager, he told me his vision and what’s going to be happening in the future here,” the keeper said. “This isn’t just a short term, see-how-it-goes project, this is a long term thing with the manager and how he wants us to play. The fact that I’m probably going to have to learn a different style of playing excites me because I could have just carried on with my career and played another 200 games the same way as I always have. But I don’t think I would have improved as much as I will do by coming here and trying to learn the Celtic way [which] is not really risky because you don’t just turn up on a Saturday and it happens. You obviously practise it every day on the training ground. Will it take some time to adjust? Of course. But I don’t look at it as being that risky – I won’t be playing square passes in the six yard box ...

“Of course [I’ve seen Joe Hart do that]. But if that’s the way the manager wants to play then it’s up to me to get it nailed down. But, again, that was his vision – for me to learn the system and to apply it. It’s part of my game that I probably couldn’t show to people because of the way I was asked to play at my previous team. So I look forward to showing people how good I am at it. It will 100 per cent make me a better player. That’s exactly the point.”