Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard warns rivals ‘there’s more to come from me’

Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard with his Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month award for August. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard with his Ladbrokes Premiership Player of the Month award for August. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
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As many a Scottish Premiership defender will ruefully testify, Odsonne Edouard isn’t backward in coming forward whenever he is in the vicinity of an opposition penalty area.

But off the pitch, the Celtic striker generally carries a far more reticent demeanor.

Edouard admits he does his best to keep a low profile away from football, something that can’t always be easy for a man attracting the level of adoration he receives from Celtic supporters.

So, while the 21-year-old gladly accedes to any requests for selfies or autographs which come his way on the streets of Glasgow, he has revealed it wasn’t a scenario he found comfortable when the roles were reversed and he met his own hero a couple of years ago.

“I was really shy as a kid, so I wouldn’t even go and ask a player for an autograph or a photo,” said Edouard.

“The only time I managed to do it was with Ronaldo, the great Brazilian striker. He was my idol when I was a young player.

“I liked him mainly because of the way he played. He could do everything. He could score, pass, dribble – anything and everything.

“As a young player, I was also a No 9 – so when you see a player who can do everything in your position, you just want to be the same as him.

“It was when I was with the Paris Saint-Germain squad in Miami for pre-season that I met him. When we walked into our hotel, Ronaldo came out of the lift.

“I was speechless but I managed to work up enough courage to go and ask him to have my photograph taken with him. It was incredible and afterwards I was the happiest boy in the whole world!

“For me as a player, it’s not a problem to be stopped by supporters. I am a simple guy, I am humble. If a fan stops me in the street and wants an autograph or a photo, I will do it no problem. It’s not hard – on the contrary, it’s nice.

“I really like it in Scotland, I actually really like Glasgow – it’s a great city. I feel I have adapted well, I like playing football here. But away from football, my life is nothing special. I am someone who is quite discreet and reserved. There’s not much to say about my life outside football.”

Edouard was speaking as he received the Ladbrokes Premiership Player-of the-Month award for August after an outstanding start to the season which has seen him score six goals for Celtic and four for the French under-21 side so far.

He has responded well to the challenge of becoming Celtic’s main striker following the £19.7 million sale of his compatriot Moussa Dembele last summer and the lengthy enforced lay-off of Leigh 
Griffiths.

Edouard is gratified by the personal recognition which has come his way but stresses he remains a work in progress.

“I’m in good form, but not the best of my life,” he said. “There is still more to come from me. The important thing for me now is to carry on from where I am at the moment and continue in the same vein. It didn’t feel like it added pressure to me when Moussa left. It just gave me more playing time, more chances to play for the team – and that gave me more opportunities to show what I could do. That’s the natural way to look at it.”

Edouard will have another opportunity to impress the public in his homeland on Thursday night when Celtic open their Europa League Group E campaign against Rennes in Brittany. But his primary concern is ensuring the Scottish champions make a positive start to their bid to make a major impact in the tournament.

“It’s very important to get a good result to begin with,” added Edouard. “We will be there on Thursday with the intention of really starting well and doing well in the rest of the campaign.

“I obviously watch the French championship regularly and Rennes are a really good team. They are doing very well and it is going to be a difficult game. They are waiting for us. It is not going to be easy. I know some of the Rennes players because we are the same generation. I know 
their left back, Faitout Maouassa, really well.

“It’s a European game, so you have to take everybody seriously no matter who the team is. You can’t take any team lightly. They must be ready. We are going to be ready. It is going to be a tough encounter.

“Celtic have more European experience than Rennes over recent years but I don’t think that will matter. It is all about this game, this 90 minutes. The best team is going to win. It is not about experience, it is about how ready you are for that game.

“Obviously, the target for us as a team is to finish in the top two in the group so that we can move on to the knock-out phase – that’s the key. Personally, it’s very simple – I want to have good matches, score goals and help the team.”

Just how long Edouard will be around to keep helping Celtic is a matter for inevitable and constant speculation as he continues to be linked with a number of major European clubs. Having seen him shine in the last two of their three consecutive domestic treble-winning seasons, Celtic supporters will hope Edouard is motivated to remain for their quest for a record 10 league titles in a row.

“Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves,” smiled Edouard. “We still have this season to come for nine-in-a-row and we’ll see what happens at the end of it. Then we can talk about what might happen after that. We’ll see how it goes. Will I be here for that? I have a long contract, so we’ll see. Of course, I’m very aware of how important this is for Celtic. This is my third season here so I have been part of this and I want to be part of it because it’s really important for me as well to achieve that.”