Colin Kazim-Richards brushed off his controversial reputation as he insisted he could be a role model for Celtic’s young players.
The 29-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with Celtic after joining from Feyenoord for an undisclosed but modest fee two weeks after he was suspended by the club for allegedly threatening a Dutch journalist.
The London-born Turkey international showed nothing but politeness as he conducted his first press conference as a Celtic player, thanking reporters for “coming out so late”.
Kazim-Richards has had a colourful career on and off the park in England, Turkey, France and Holland and was once described by Motherwell boss Mark McGhee as “impossible to work with” following their time together at Brighton.
But the forward is not concerned by others’ opinions and believes his committed approach is the reason he often makes a stir.
When asked about having a reputation, he said: “I just get on with my football and it’s you guys’ job to do everything else. It’s just your opinion, it’s not unfair.
“Coming to Celtic is about Celtic and then it’s about Colin Kazim-Richards. People might think sometimes it’s about Colin Kazim-Richards because I give that much all the time. But I think I will gel well.
“Last year I played some of the best football I have played so with this opportunity it just meshes. It’s a win-win situation.”
When asked if people’s perceptions frustrate him, he said: “It doesn’t annoy me. For me, [Lionel] Messi is the best player in the world but to you maybe he’s not. Someone is always going to have something to say no matter what as a footballer.
“That’s just the way the game is and that’s what makes it the best and the worst game. You can ask ten people who I am and you might get ten different answers, just like any other footballer in the world. I don’t think I’m any different.”
Kazim-Richards has spent the bulk of his career abroad, leaving England as a teenager following a spell at Sheffield United, although he did have a season on loan at Blackburn in 2012-13, after which he was fined at Brighton Magistrates Court for making a homophobic gesture to his former club’s fans.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t really want to come back to Britain,” he said.
“To be able to do the things I have been able to do and experience the experiences I have, I didn’t think I could get it from anywhere in the UK. But then this opportunity came.
“To try to play in the Champions League again with a club like this, and to be able to win things with a club like this, is what I have been searching for going to Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Olympiacos.
“Now I’ve got it back at home and I can’t stop smiling because it’s a massive opportunity for me.”
He added: “I’ve got two kids, I’m a family man, I’m more mature. I left here when I was 19 and I went to Turkey.
“Whether I am Turkish or not, I didn’t grow up in Turkey, so it was still a massive, massive culture shock for me.
“And I think personally I coped with it well and I’ve become a better man and ultimately a better footballer.
“How am I going to handle the pressure? I’ve been around and I played at big clubs. Maybe it’s not as intense as it can be here, but I’ve got a genuine feeling of how it can be. We have some young players here and sometimes it can be scary as a young player playing in front of this type of atmosphere and bleeding green and white every single day. And I can help them with that.”
Patrick Roberts, meanwhile, revealed that some advice from Jason Denayer confirmed his decision to move to Celtic from Manchester City.
The 18-year-old winger joined the Parkhead side on an 18-month loan deal and follows in the footsteps of the Belgium defender who won a Scottish Premiership and League Cup double during his spell last season as well as the PFA Scotland young player of the year award.
Speaking at Celtic Park, Roberts, who signed for City from Fulham last summer for a fee reported to be up to £12million, was keen to move to the Scottish champions as soon as he became aware of their interest but also valued Denayer’s experience.
“Man City know that I need to be playing football and they were happy for me to come here,” he said.
“Jason Denayer did it last year and he did very well.
“I spoke to him and he said it was a very, very good club. So I was happy with what he said and I was really excited.
“He said he never wanted to leave. He enjoyed it so much he kept bragging on about it every time I asked him.
Roberts, who revealed he wore the Celtic kit as a kid – “my mum used to buy me one” – added: “It is the biggest club in Scotland. They play in Europe, they play in a massive stadium like this, what’s not to know about them.
“I am here for a long time and I want to be as successful as anyone else and win trophies.
“I am very direct, I am very quick, I like to get them [fans] off their seats, which I hope to many, many times.”
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