Celtic smashed their transfer record 12 months ago when they paid Paris St Germain £9 million for striker Odsonne Edouard and they made a similar declaration of intent yesterday when central defender Christopher Jullien became their second most expensive signing when he completed a £7m move from Ligue 1 side Toulouse.
Neil Lennon’s squad is aiming to equal the Scottish record of winning nine consecutive championships in 2019/20 and, for their supporters, the Holy Grail is achieving a new benchmark by making it a perfect ten the following year.
Jullien has won nothing in a club career which has encompassed spells with Auxerre, Freiburg and Gijon, as well as Toulouse, but he now intends to make up for lost time by writing his name into Celtic folklore as part of the team which takes their tally of titles into double figures.
“That’s really exciting but, for now, we want to equal the nine,” he said. “After that, we can see the next one; I’ll just be focused on the nine.
“But I think it’s a good thing to have that focus of winning some trophies and having some legacy. For me, it is a great moment.”
Jullien, 26, was part of the French team which won the Under-20 World Cup in Germany six years ago and he is desperate to savour some success again.
“When you start playing football, you are doing it to win some trophies and have a legacy,” he said. “When I won that trophy with France… it has been a long time now.
“There was an excitement and good vibes; I think every footballer needs to have that. Since that time, it’s true that I haven’t won trophies or been to finals.
“My experience in Germany was not good. I achieved a promotion in France but didn’t win a trophy. To now be part of a team that wants to see the top of the league and not the low part is really good.”
The defender, who arrives on a four-year deal, is the first signing with new manager Neil Lennon’s stamp on it and he is unlikely to forget how the news of the Irishman’s interest was broken to him as he made his way to another iconic venue to witness one of the biggest sporting shocks of 2019.
“At the exact moment of the call, I was walking to Madison Square Garden,” he said. “I was going to watch Anthony Joshua fight Andy Ruiz. That was when my agent called to say Celtic were really interested. I was like: ‘This is great news – I’m just going to see the fight and then I’ll contact you right after that.’ Two or three days after that, I was here.
“I’m a big fan of Joshua so I wasn’t happy with that fight but it was a good experience. We could walk to it because we weren’t staying far from the Garden. I’m going to remember that time always; it was nice.”
Jullien also had access to some inside information from Edouard, who had been a team-mate while on loan at Toulouse from PSG three seasons ago.
“Of course, when I knew about the interest I contacted Odsonne,” he said. “We spoke about it for one or two weeks. He told me everything, all good stuff about the club. After that, my mind was set. I saw the facilities and the interest which the club had in me for a long time.”
Unlike Edouard, Jullien is fluent in English, as one would expect from a player who married a British girl.
“I learned a little bit in school and also from my wife, who is Welsh,” he said. “We’ve been together nine years, we have a son and her family have taught me a lot as well, even if the Welsh accent can be really difficult to understand.
“We started going out when she was in Paris – at the Moulin Rouge – as a professional dancer. I met her just before she started there, when she was working at Disneyland.
“We made our ways into our professional lives together – Charlotte as a dancer, me in football with a professional team – and everything has gone in the right way since. She is from Cardiff Bay and all her family are still there; Charlotte Davies is her name.”
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba was a team-mate in that France World Cup-winning side in 2013, although they go back further than that. “We were born in the same hospital and we played for the same team, US Torcy,” he explained.
“We are the same age and it’s strange we are getting closer now but he’s still way up there. We were kind of friends but in football everyone goes their separate ways.
“We’re still in contact sometimes but he has his own life and so do I. I’m just so happy for him and all he has achieved. As kids we didn’t speak about our futures, only about enjoying football at that moment.
“His career has just gone way too fast and every footballer has different ways and if, by joining Celtic – and I’m really sure about this – I can win some trophies and have my own success, that would be the best.”