Celtic star Odsonne Edouard targets France cap in time for delayed Euros
For Odsonne Edouard, there may prove to be an upside from lockdown.
Like everyone else, the Celtic striker has felt the frustration of his normal life being placed on pause by the coronavirus pandemic.
But as Scotland’s newly-crowned Player of the Year prepares for a return to action next season, the consequences of football’s suspension have provided him with a fresh objective.
Edouard has set his sights on breaking into the French national team in time for the postponed Euro 2020 finals when they take place 12 months from now.
The 22-year-old, whose electrifying form for his country’s under-21 squad saw him score 11 goals in six appearances last season, believes he could even form a new strike partnership with his close friend and former Celtic team-mate Moussa Dembele.
“It is definitely one of my objectives to get into the French team at some point,” said Edouard. “Now that I have one more season to prove myself and perform well before the Euros, the delay could be a positive thing for me. It would be fantastic for me.
“I am still close friends with Moussa and we talk a lot. I’m really happy for him that he has done so well with Lyon.
“I wouldn’t say it is a dream for us to play together for France one day – I would say it is definitely a target for us.”
Edouard had the option to return to his homeland when lockdown was imposed in March but chose to remain in Glasgow.
“It has been difficult for most people but I have kept busy and I’ve made sure I’ve been keeping fit,” said the laid-back former Paris Saint-Germain player.
“I’ve been doing a lot of running, for example. Luckily, one of my friends was here just before lockdown started, so I haven’t been on my own.
“I’ve been speaking to my family back in France a lot through video conferences, but I’ve done that anyway since I came to Celtic, so it has felt normal. I’ve been getting a lot of support.”
Edouard came out top in the Scottish Football Writers’ Association poll, ahead of three other short-listed contenders – Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos, Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor and Dundee United front man Lawrence Shankland.
He is the first French player to win the prestigious award since its inception back in 1965 when the first winner was Celtic’s legendary captain Billy McNeill.
“I’m very happy with the award,” he added. “It shows I worked hard and had a good season. It gives me a lot of confidence for the future.
“The other three players on the short-list were not there by chance. It’s because they are real quality players. I’m very proud to be the first French player to win this award, I know how important it is.
“There were a lot of highlights for me during the season but the biggest one was winning the title for nine-in-a-row. That’s the reason we play.”
Edouard was brought to Celtic by Brendan Rodgers, initially on loan and then for a club record fee of £9 million. He has now scored 62 goals in 126 games and has praised Rodgers’ successor Neil Lennon for his role in taking his performances to new levels of consistency and quality over the past 12 months.
“The manager is a very, very good coach,” said Edouard. “He is very demanding but brings the best out of the team.
“He talks to me a lot, he guides me and he has been very good for my development as a player.”
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