Mackay-Steven enjoying Ciftci reunion at Celtic

GARY Mackay-Steven has expressed his delight at being reunited with Nadir Ciftci at Celtic and is convinced the Turkish striker will become a major success with the Scottish champions.
Nadir Ciftci, right, congratulates Gary MackaySteven after he scored the winner against Real Sociedad. Picture: SNSNadir Ciftci, right, congratulates Gary MackaySteven after he scored the winner against Real Sociedad. Picture: SNS
Nadir Ciftci, right, congratulates Gary MackaySteven after he scored the winner against Real Sociedad. Picture: SNS

Ciftci made an eye-catching first appearance for Celtic in their 1-0 friendly win over Real Sociedad in Paisley last Friday night, coming on as a second-half substitute to set up the winning goal for Mackay-Steven.

The 23-year-old is now poised to make his competitive debut for Ronny Deila’s side in the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie against Iceland outfit Stjarnan at Celtic Park on Wednesday night.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ciftci completed his £1.5 million move from Dundee United last week, following the career path taken by his former Tannadice team-mates Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong earlier in the year.

“I’m glad he is here,” said Mackay-­Steven. “He is a really good player and will add something different from what we already have here.

“He looked really sharp when he came on against Sociedad and gave a glimpse of what he can do.

“I know personally what he is capable of and he will be a great addition to the squad. He is a big strong boy up front with a physical presence, but he has a lot of skill as well.

“I didn’t really speak to him before he came. Obviously, I was hearing rumours. I spoke to him briefly when we trained at St Andrews last week but nothing about Celtic.

“So it was quite surreal when he came into training at Lennoxtown for the first time, seeing him in the changing room with Stuart as well, wearing the colours of Celtic.

“I have no doubts Nadir will cope [with the expectations at Celtic]. He is a confident lad on and off the park. He will show that in every game he plays and I’ve no doubts he will be a big star here.

“He was a fans’ favourite at United and I’m sure he will be a fans’ favourite here. He is the type of player who gets bums off seats and I can’t wait for him to show it with Celtic.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Nadir and I have a good understanding on the pitch. The understanding Stuart and I have with him can only help Celtic.

“We played together a lot at United and know each other’s games inside out. It can only be a benefit on and off the park.”

One of Ciftci’s first duties away from the playing field will be to undergo the ritual of serenading his new team-mates.

“He will have to sing a song as a new player here,” said Mackay-Steven. “He’s got that to look forward to when we are in the hotel before the Stjarnan game on Wednesday.

“He had to sing one when he joined United. I think he sung a national anthem or something. It wasn’t the best, so he’ll have to do a little bit better than that this time.”

Mackay-Steven has found little difficulty in hitting the right notes during Celtic’s pre-season preparations, scoring in all three of their Paisley outings against Den Bosch, Dukla Prague and Sociedad.

“I’m feeling good,” added the winger. “I came back to pre-season with no injuries, so I’m happy and looking forward to the season. Friday night was good. It was another tough opponent but we are definitely feeling fitter and sharper. It was a good test for us.

“We have been working on a few things in training and have definitely had good work-outs in the three pre-season games. So I’m sure we will be ready for Wednesday.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We have only been training as a group with the new players for just over a week, so it will definitely take time, but every day we are getting a better understanding with each other. It’s looking good and looking ahead to Wednesday, I’m excited.”