How Moritz Jenz' first Celtic press call exposed a footballer cut from a different cloth

The first public media duties conducted by Celtic’s latest arrival Moritz Jenz didn’t follow the usual lines.

It is not typical for such sit-ins to see the subject reference concerns over the climate crisis amid recent temperature extremes, be at ease chatting veganism, the satisfaction of gallery visits and eschewing the materialism and ostentacious expressions so often associated with those at the top of his profession. However, the 23-year-old German centre-back, who has joined the Scottish champions on a season-long deal from French side Lorient, is clearly cut from a different cloth to so many of his contemporaries. The sort of cloth that doesn’t end up in designer togs to adorn himself in.

Jenz’s game style – the 6ft 4in defender considers his best attributes to be aggression and commitment to playing out from the back – has brought comparisons with Christopher Jullien. A centre-back whose Celtic future is uncertain with no apparent route to consistent outings. Their similarities patently extend beyond the pitch, though. Just as Jullien possesses a hinterland and genial openness, these facets radiate from Jenz. Yet, he is at pains not to present himself as some sort of paragon because his sense of what is important in life beyond pushing his career to the limits might deviate from the norm. Instead, he puts his worldview down to seeing different sides to life in moving from his homeland to Fulham academy with his parents aged only 13. A switch that led to Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley becoming his “best friend” and someone he has remained in contact with daily even after he left for Swiss side Lausanne-Sport as the midfielder joined Milton Keynes Dons three summers ago.

“I think my interests come from my parents because from a young age we travelled a lot to different countries,” Jenz said. “We looked at a lot of history. Wherever we went, we would go to the museum together. It’s nice because it is relaxing for your mind after a stressful game or after a stressful week. You go to a museum or you see something new and it’s just calming. I wouldn’t say I care much about the lives you sometimes see with footballers these days. You see guys on a yacht or on a jet, jetskis or whatever. I try to keep my life simple. I’m quite private. If you have the brain and a good wife to keep you grounded then you are in the right place.”

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Celtic feels right for Jenz to the point of it almost seeming fated he would end up in Glasgow’s east end. Coming under the tutelage of club icon Peter Grant, who was his under-23 coach in the Fulham academy, can have that effect. “Peter is a great person,” the player said. “He’s very polite, a proper gentleman. On the field he’s a different person. You need that fire and he’s like a lion. I really liked him. He talked a lot about Celtic – because I asked a lot of questions. He told me Andy Thom played here but I also talked about Celtic with his sons [Raymond and Peter] because they are fans too and would always be telling me about the club. So it got in my brain and now I am here. It’s incredible.”

New Celtic signing Moritz Jenz says his interest in the wide world doesn't include any desire for expensive trappings. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
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