Patryk Klimala may have earned the foreboding nickname of “The Devil” during his rise to prominence in Polish football but Celtic’s new striker insists he will adopt an angelic lifestyle in his new home.
The 21-year-old’s early career struggles saw him fail to make the grade at Legia Warsaw when his application was questioned amid concerns over some of his off-field habits.
Klimala’s determined and focused response to that setback has now been rewarded with a £3.4 million move to the Scottish champions from Jagiellonia Bialystok and a four-and-a-half year contract.
As he becomes the latest Pole to ply his trade at Celtic Park, Klimala certainly has no intention of earning the kind of playboy reputation which was attached to another pacy striker who wore the green and white hoops, Jacki Dziekanowski, whose initial popularity among the fans wasn’t backed up by success on the pitch.
“The young life is behind me,” smiled Klimala, an engaging and courteous figure as he conducted his first media duties in Glasgow through a translator.
“For the last five years, I have been with my fiancee Milena. We have a dog called Lambo and we are planning a family. So I’m not planning any drinking sessions here!”
Klimala admits he has little recollection of Celtic’s previous Polish players, including the more recent duo of Artur Boruc and Maciej Zurawski, but hopes to tap into their experiences.
“I don’t really remember them but I can watch them on the internet and I know they were good players,” he said.
“I’m planning to try to get in touch with them if I can, to help me acclimatise, learn more about Celtic and Scotland.
“Polish players generally travel well and since I arrived here this week, everybody has been so nice to me and I can feel that support.
“Hopefully in another two or three months when I do interviews, I will be able to answer the questions on my own without an interpreter.
“I only started learning English maybe two or three months ago. I understand maybe 80-90 percent of what is being said but in terms of communication, hopefully I will overcome it soon.”
Klimala was also linked with Serie A side Genoa and Celtic’s forthcoming Europa League opponents Copenhagen in recent weeks but is in no doubt he has made the right move.
“I feel it is a big achievement for me to come to Scotland and sign for Celtic,” he said. “I have always dreamed of playing for a big club. Celtic is a huge club with a lot of history.
“I had a few offers from other clubs but I never even thought of moving elsewhere as soon as I learned Celtic were interested. I made my mind up straight away to come here. I’m very happy about it.
“There were big clubs from Italy and other countries interested in me, but I don’t want to mention their names. I feel my style of football is more suited to Celtic. So this is the best choice for me to make.
“I would describe myself as a strong and fast player, I feel I am best suited to Celtic and Scottish football. I think I will do well here.
“In terms of the pressure here, I know the fans at Celtic support the club and that is not going to overwhelm me. I’m going to do my best to get the fans’ support in every game.”
Klimala hopes to force his way into Neil Lennon’s first team plans as soon as possible but does not see himself solely as a rival to current first choice striker Odsonne Edouard.
“I’m prepared for a fight but I don’t see Edouard in any shape of form as my enemy,” he added. “Obviously I’m going to fight to get into the team. If I’m going to play alongside him, I’ll support him. If I’m going to be on the bench, I’ll still do my best for the team when I get the chance to play. Whatever is best for the team, I will adjust.
“I’m not sure how long it’s going to take. I feel I’m ready for it. I’m prepared for gradual progress to the main team. I’m ready to fight for a spot in the team.”
It remains to be seen whether Klimala can make an immediate impact on Celtic’s quest for a record-equalling ninth consecutive Scottish league title but he is aware of the scenario in which he now finds himself.
“Before I came here, I knew all about the run to this point in the club’s history,” he said.
“There are obviously going to be a lot of challenges. But, after training for two days with the squad, without being over confident, I can see there is a chance to achieve this. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”