Efe Ambrose eyes redemption against Barcelona after ‘letting team down’

Efe Ambrose (back) celebrates Javier Mascherano's own goal. Picture: SNS
Efe Ambrose (back) celebrates Javier Mascherano's own goal. Picture: SNS
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THERE is no such thing as a good time to score an own goal, but to do so in the final minute of the game immediately before the biggest club match of your career is pretty unfortunate timing at the very least.

For that own goal to be the first of your professional career and to score it just 72 hours before you face Barcelona, the best club side in the world, in the Champions League is probably not the sort of confidence booster you would actively seek.

But if Efe Ambrose of Celtic is suffering any crisis of confidence following his own goal in the third minute of stoppage time against Dundee United on Sunday, then it was not visible or audible when the Nigerian met the press yesterday.

Ambrose said: “For me, after scoring the own goal, what went through my mind was that I let the team down and I let myself down too. I should have done better with the ball but I didn’t.

“But that is football, that is part of the game, and the important thing is how you move on and how you react to situations like that. It was my first own goal of my career and now I want to pay back the Celtic fans.”

Doing that will mean upsetting Lionel Messi, the world’s best player whose girlfriend Antonella Roccuzzo gave birth to their son Thiago on Friday, six days after Messi scored his 300th career goal.

“First of all I will tell Lionel Messi congratulations.,” said Ambrose. “It’s a great thing to become a father but I believe we are going to ruin his party here in Glasgow.”

Ambrose said this with a smile, but there was no disguising the seriousness of his and his team-mates’ intention to put the Dundee United experience in the file marked “forgotten”.

“Yes, it was very disappointing, but we have recovered and it is behind us now,” said Ambrose. “We conceded two goals in two minutes, which is not good enough, and we have to take full responsibility for that and hope that these kind of mistakes never happen again.”

Ambrose needed no reminding that Celtic only lost to Barcelona in their first encounter in Spain because of another goal conceded in stoppage time.

He said: “The last game was hell for us in the Nou Camp because we fought until the last minute before Barcelona scored their winner. It’s very worrying that we’ve lost our concentration so late in these matches. In the Nou Camp, it was the 94th minute and then at Tannadice it was two late goals in two minutes, so we need to sort that out.

“We’ve talked about it with the manager and we know what we need to do – and we will do it.

“At a time like this we need to be more focused and go to the last minute and keep our concentration until the very end. We need to put effort in to make sure this does not happen again.”

The Nigerian internationalist turned 24 last month and own goals notwithstanding, he is already winning over the Celtic fans with his performances in defence.

His first goal for the club against St Mirren was followed by spectacular celebratory somersaults and Ambrose would love to show the fans a new routine.

• Efe Ambrose was speaking at the announcement that thousands of children are to benefit from a £120,000 donation to music education from Celtic’s Charity Fund.