| 15.3°C Dublin

Samaras satisfied with Parkhead days as he prepares for exit

IF Georgios Samaras is to leave Celtic at the end of the season he will do so satisfied that he has made his mark at a club he has grown to love.

The Greece international arrived at Parkhead on a six-month loan spell from Manchester City in January, 2008 before making his move permanent, but the signs are that he will not renew his current contract which finishes in the summer.

Samaras, 29, has recently passed the 250 appearance-mark for the champions and is glad his relative longevity will see him remembered at Parkhead long after many of his former Hoops teammates have been forgotten.

"When I started playing football I always wanted to stay at a club for many years," the former Heerenveen forward said.

"I didn't want to change clubs like other players do, moving every two or three years. I wanted to love a club and for it to love me back, so they could remember me for something.

"This club for me is Celtic.

"I have seen players coming here for six months, one year or two years and maybe they have played 60-70 games and they won't be remembered.

"I couldn't imagine when I first came here on loan for six months that I would stay for another six years.


"It's a great achievement to play 250 games but it is just a number.

"I have tried my best and tried to help my teammates be successful.

"But the most important thing is that it's good for me to know that I have a connection at the club and that's really important. I am not a passenger.

"I started my career in Holland and stayed for five years and had a bond with that club and I wanted my next step to be similar.

"That didn't happen at Man City but from the moment I came here on loan as soon as the season finished, I was 100 per cent sure that this was the club I wanted to be at.

"If you see souvenirs, I have from football – awards, hat-trick balls, medals and trophies – they are all from Celtic. When I retire I will have my hall of fame and everything there will be Celtic."

One man who is definitely leaving Parkhead at the end of the season is assistant manager Johan Mjallby.

The Swede enjoyed six years as a defender at Celtic before returning to join Neil Lennon's backroom staff in 2010, when the Irishman was handed the manager's post first on a temporary basis.

The 43-year-old admits leaving the club "will be sad as it will leave a big hole in me" and knows he may not enjoy the same level of success in his next post.

He said: "Success is something you can take for granted and if I have to go and work for a lesser club somewhere in the world it will be different for me as it won't be something that is guaranteed. But you must have this burning desire to try to change things and that's always the outlook we have had here."

Mjallby revealed his proudest achievement as a number two over the past four years was helping Celtic reach the last-16 of the Champions League.

He said: "That group of players did remarkably well to get through the group phase against clubs who had more financial muscle than us.

"We were really tactically focused before every game which you have to be in the Champions League.

"That's probably my proudest moment."