Matt O'Riley revels in 'crazy' summer development at Celtic Park - 'football can throw stuff like this up'

Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley is chuffed over the kind hand the fates can play in reflecting on being reunited with his valued friend Mortiz Jenz at the Scottish champions.

Celtic's Matt O'Riley is made up about being reunited with close pal and fomrer Fulham academy team-mate Moritz Jenz.(Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic's Matt O'Riley is made up about being reunited with close pal and fomrer Fulham academy team-mate Moritz Jenz.(Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The pair developed an unbreakable bond in coming through the Fulham youth academy together from their mid-teens. However, it seemed their professional ties were irrevocably broken when they went their separate ways, departing the London club within six months of one another across the 2020-21 campaign. Only for short, but winding, roads to bring them back together again in Glasgow. A certain six-month symmetry at play again in 23-year-old German centre-back being recruited in a season-long loan deal from Lorient last month.

“When I signed for Celtic in January, I wasn’t aware the club had looked at Moritz last summer,” said 21-year-old O’Riley. “It wasn’t until we had a few calls before he came that I found that out. We spoke about a lot of things when we chatted and I explained the set-up and system, but he was keen to come and here he is. Football can be crazy sometimes. That’s just how this game works. Things can change so fast and your journey ends up meeting again. Moritz left Fulham [in August 2020] and went to Switzerland, then France. I went to League One with MK Dons [in January 2021] then both of us signed for Celtic within a few months of each other. We met at 14, 15, had four years together at Fulham but I didn’t actually see him again until he came to Celtic, though we kept in touch.

“Football can throw stuff like this up and it’s nice to be his team-mate again. We shared a lot of good memories in the past and I hope there are more to come in the future at Celtic. It was nice when I heard he was coming, as having another friendly face around the place is a bonus. But in saying that, I have a lot of mates here already and that just shows the culture we have at Celtic. We have a great group and Moritz adds to that.”

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