Monday 21 October 2019

Connell say reality hasn't sunk in after 'dream' Celtic switch

Luca Connell has signed a four year deal with Celtic
Luca Connell has signed a four year deal with Celtic

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Luca Connell says he wants to "make history" and have an impact in the Champions League with his move to SPL champions Celtic.

Connell (18) ended months of speculation about his future when the Bolton Wanderers player agreed a four-year deal with the Parkhead giants.

Bolton will only receive compensation for the Liverpool-born player as he was not on a professional contract last season.

Versatile Connell, who can play in defence and midfield, emerged onto the scene with Bolton last season, making his debut as a 17-year-old and earning rave reviews despite the club's relegation to League One.

He also moved up the ladder at international level as Mick McCarthy invited him to join the senior squad for training in Portugal and, but for injury, would have been in the final squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Denmark.

The move to the Bhoys almost guarantees that Connell will not be involved for the Ireland U19s at the European Championship finals in Armenia in two weeks' time as Celtic will be involved in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

Connell admitted that the chance to play in Europe was one of the factors which led him to Glasgow. "I'm looking forward to all the league games and especially the Champions League," said Connell (below), who is qualified for Ireland through his Dublin grandparents.

"It's unbelievable to sign for such a massive club known all around the world. It's a dream come true, something I've dreamed of since I was a little boy.

''It's crazy and hasn't really sunk in. I'm signing for such a big club with so much history. Hopefully, I can help us make more history and I can't wait to get started.

"You can't turn your head away from all the trophies and success Celtic have won and being involved in the Champions League. There are a lot of good players here so it's a challenge to break through. It's something new and fresh. With the ethics of this club, all the youngsters will be pushing through.

"The stadium is unbelievable. Just looking round and seeing the size of it is unreal. I can't imagine what it's like when it's full and, hopefully, I'll experience playing out in front of the amazing fans with us winning.

"I had a look at videos of Celtic Park and the background of the club so it's made me really excited to play. If you're not excited to be involved in games here, then you need to hang your boots up." Premier League and Championship clubs had been linked with Connell but he said the move happened quickly, adding: "I did not know it was getting announced, then all of a sudden it was going everywhere."

Connell's transfer is the biggest so far this summer for an Irish player.

Current or former internationals who have already secured moves include Alex Pearce (Derby to Millwall), Stephen Ward (Burnley to Stoke), Andy Boyle (Preston to Dundalk) and Darren Potter (Rotherham to Tranmere). Wes Hoolahan is still training with League Two side Cambridge United ahead of a possible move there.

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