LEIGH Griffiths is determined to have the last word in his personal duel with Malmö goalkeeper Johan Wiland as he bids to fire Celtic into the group stage of the Champions League, writes Stephen Halliday.
Celtic’s in-form striker was branded a “brat” by Wiland when the Swedish international ’keeper launched the bizarre verbal assault in which he also described the Scottish champions as “pigs”.
I think they are just trying to fire us up a bit. We aren’t going to fall for itLeigh Griffiths
Griffiths, pictured right, who scored twice in the 3-2 first-leg win for Celtic in the play-off round last Wednesday, is bemused but unconcerned by Wiland’s comments.
The 25-year-old, who has scored seven goals already this season for Celtic, will look to respond by finding a way beyond Wiland again in tonight’s return fixture in Malmö. “I think the only person who has called me a brat before is my mum,” smiled Griffiths. “They can say what they want about me or anybody else in the side, but we have got a job to do and we will go and do it.
“I don’t know where their ’keeper was coming from with what he said. He was saying during the game that I was tugging his shirt, but there was nothing. I didn’t touch him once. He was the one pushing and pulling at corners. I spoke to the ref and asked him to keep an eye on it.
“The assistant behind the goal also made it clear that if he saw him pushing me again he’d give a penalty for it.
“I think they are just trying to wind us up a bit. But we are looking to win the game. They are just trying to play games with us. We aren’t going to fall for it. Teams will do that all the time. We have got to rise above it.
“The comments made have just been silly. We know what we are. We are a good footballing side and hopefully we will go and prove that.
“Teams will always try to manipulate you and try and do stuff to get you wound up. But the manager will be cool, will be calm, and he’ll have that instilled in us tomorrow by the time we go out for kick-off.”
Griffiths looks to have finally earned Celtic manager Ronny Deila’s trust to fill the lone striker role in European games, having been second choice to new signing Nadir Ciftci in the two previous qualifying rounds this season.
“The manager knew what I could do and it was up to me to change myself,” added Griffiths. “If I wanted to play in that role, I knew I had to be fit, I had to be strong and work on certain aspects of my game.
“I’ve gone away and done that and that’s why I got chosen to play last Wednesday. Of course it’s difficult when you’re not playing. You have to change your lifestyle and in training you need to be working a bit harder. That wasn’t easy. But I’ve grafted and that’s why I’m playing again. I’m champing at the bit to play in every game and feel confident I can score in every game.”