Celtic's Ange Postecoglou jokes over Hearts' Cammy Devlin's claim fellow Australian is universally popular in Scotland

Ange Postecoglou’s willingness to rise above the tribal nature of Scottish football is evidenced in the Celtic manager’s attitude even to fellow Australians that are local foes.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou offers words of encouragement to Hearts' Cammy Devlin  after the clubs' last meeting with the two having offered up commendations to each other before they lock horns again at Tynecastle on Wednesday.  (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou offers words of encouragement to Hearts' Cammy Devlin after the clubs' last meeting with the two having offered up commendations to each other before they lock horns again at Tynecastle on Wednesday. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Postecoglou could encounter two such figures when his team head into the cauldron of Tynecastle for Wednesday’s confrontation with an in-form Hearts, namely Cammy Devlin, who arrived in the country last summer like the 56-year-old, and Nathaniel Atkinson. The Celtic manager is enough of a patriot to be unable but root for the pair outwith facing up to them. And that feeling appears mutual, with Devlin quoted recently bigging up Postecoglou and the respect he has earned within these borders occupying a post that represents the highest-profile held by an Australian coach in the European game.

"He’s coaching fricken Celtic. It’s insane,” the ebullient midfielder said the other week, revealing Postecoglou had offered him words of encouragement following Celtic’s 1-0 win over Hearts in Glasgow last month. “The talk here, everyone likes him as well – even in Edinburgh, no one’s had a bad word to say. And everyone’s pretty opinionated over here.”

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The jocular Postecoglou couldn’t help but introduce a caveat over his universal popularity in his adopted football homeland when reminded of the glowing testimonial from Devlin this week. “Haha. I could introduce Cam to a few people who probably don’t like me!” the Celtic manager said. “Nah, he is a good lad and a good player, they also have Nathaniel, who I know from Melbourne, and I am super pleased for them. They are Aussies and I have followed their careers pretty closely. They are good young players and good young men as well. They are in a great environment, with a good club and I think this league is good for them. I am happy they are getting the opportunity.”

Daizen Maeda’s Japan call-up and the hamstring problems sidelining Kyogo Furuhashi will, over the next three league encounters, deprive Postecoglou of two strikers that are surely one and two in his frontline pecking order. The consolation is the return to fitness of Giorgos Giakoumakis and James Forrest to his final third options. “Having James and Giorgos available just gives us so much more flexibility in that front area,” said the Celtic manager. “Which is great.”

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