Odin Thiago Holm: Why I still think Celtic is the right place for me to be

The Norwegian midfielder is learning from O’Riley and feels Rodgers is best man to develop him

When Atletico Madrid’s interest in Matt O’Riley first became known, it looked like Odin Thiago Holm would be a leading candidate to step into the midfield to replace him.

With Celtic sticking rigidly to their insistence that O’Riley won’t be sold, however, the Norwegian may have to settle for continuing to learn from his fellow midfielder instead. This hasn’t been the easiest of maiden seasons for the 21-year-old, a summer arrival from Valerenga who is yet to play a full 90 minutes and was sent off on his Champions League debut away to Feyenoord.

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Among the positives, though, has been the steady influence of O’Riley who is only two years older but blessed with a maturity, both on and off the field, that belies his relative youth. That O’Riley has similarly arrived from a small club – MK Dons –to thrive both domestically and in the Champions League makes him the ideal example for Holm to try to follow.

Odin Thiago Holm during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.Odin Thiago Holm during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.
Odin Thiago Holm during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.

“Matt plays in the same position as me and he’s a really good player so I try to learn a lot from him,” he confirms. “I couldn’t have a better role model. He’s doing everything right and he’s a top professional away from the pitch as well. I try to watch what he does and learn from him. I wouldn’t say he gives me advice – I just look at him to see what he does and how he does it. I watch how he plays, how he recovers and also the work he does in the gym. That has helped me.

“Matt inspires me because you look at how he came here from a smaller club and what he’s achieved here at Celtic already. You have to be patient in football and take your chance whenever you get it. I’m sure Matt would say he’s done that. Throughout his career so far, he’s done all he can to improve. When you get a chance, you have to be ready. I’m sure all the players here have dreams of reaching their top level.”

O’Riley is not the only one helping to shape Holm’s career. Brendan Rodgers has built a reputation as a manager famed for bringing the best out of youthful prospects and he has fed Holm with plenty of advice, too. “The manager has a reputation for developing young players and making them better so I hope he can do that with me,” he adds. “He started in academy football and managers with that background like to develop players. He’s the right manager for me right now.

“He knows how to deal with each individual player and I really like the relationship we have. He has set goals for me this season. He wants me to bring more of my personality out on the pitch. He wants me to do more, when I have the ball and when I don’t, in terms of intensity in the press. There are a lot of different points I can improve on. The move so far has had ups and downs. I’ve had some good games, so bad ones. And of course, I got a red card in my Champions League debut. But I’m really happy to be here and I still feel this is the right place for me to be.”