The Swede’s £4million move from Rubin Kazan last July has ensured both professional and personal peace of mind that would have been denied to the 26-year-old had he remained in Russia. Starfelt is well aware of other players who are in a very different position. Those from a variety of European countries that have been in a bind through requiring to continue to fulfil their contracts with clubs in a nation ostracised by the global community as war crimes have been inflicted on the people of Ukraine following Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade and destroy the people and cities of that land.
“I’m not going to stand here and say I’m not grateful that I came to Celtic at this time,” said Starfelt, with admirable candour. “I think it’s a very tough situation for the European players who are still there. I have some friends over there and it’s a tough situation for them. We’ll have to see what will happen because everything is still very uncertain and that’s the biggest issue.”
Starfelt has the luxury of being able to focus simply on playing football in a positive environment. In fostering a crucial central-defensive partnership with Cameron Carter-Vickers, the Sweden international has blossomed into one of mainstays of a Celtic comprehensively recast under Ange Postecoglou. He is looking forward to “a very big game” at Tannadice as his club have the opportunity to seal, absolutely, a championship that they have been certain to win since moving six points ahead of Rangers six weeks ago. More than that, he is looking forward to the very big prize this will earn … in the form of direct entry to the Champions League group stages.
“‘That’s huge obviously,” he said. “The Champions League I would say is, club-wise, one of the biggest things you can do. I think it would be massive for all the players and massive for the club and the fans. Everyone would look forward to it so much. But you definitely can’t celebrate [a title and what it means] until you’ve won it. But we have a big chance of doing that on Wednesday and hopefully then we can celebrate.”