CELTIC’S Stefan Johansen was lured to Scotland by the club’s former manager Neil Lennon, but the playmaker says it is Lennon’s successor Ronny Deila who has been key to his player of the year bid.
The Norway international has been named on the four-man list for the annual PFA Scotland prize alongside Parkhead team-mate Virgil van Dijk, Aberdeen hitman Adam Rooney and Dundee forward Greg Stewart.
His nomination is reward for an impressive campaign in which the 24-year-old took over as the beating heart of the Glasgow giants.
Deila must also take a share of the credit after moving Johansen forward from a central midfield role to a slot just in behind the strikers, and the 12 goals he has struck so far prove it was a wise decision. Johansen admits he is playing at his peak and thanked the man he first worked with at former club Stromsgodset for showing such faith in his talents.
He said: “It’s great to be nominated. It shows you have done something right. I’m playing further forward this season and that has been important. Last year I arrived in January and had just six months to get used to the culture here and the tempo of the game. But this year I got a full pre-season with a gaffer I know and have been played further up the park, so that was important for me.
“Ronny was the guy who took me to Stromsgodset and helped me a lot with the things I needed to work on. Then I got sold here and Ronny joined soon after. He is a good gaffer who cares about the small details and that makes you a better player. That’s important.
“He’s been the most important figure in my career. He has helped me get to where I am today.”
Deila had to shoot down rumours suggesting Johansen might be tempted away by suitors from Germany and England earlier this month. But the player insists he is content at Celtic for now.
“To be honest, I haven’t focused on that at all,” the 16-cap Norway attacker said. “Right now I’m happy at Celtic.”