Celtic £4.5m flop admits disappointing Parkhead stint 'tested mental health'

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The Greek stopper discussed his disappointing spell in Glasgow on a recent podcast back in his homeland.

Vasilis Barkas has opened up on his Celtic struggles - admitting his mental health was "tested" during his ill-fated spell in Glasgow.

The Greek international stopper moved to Parkhead from AEK Athens in a £4.5million transfer during the height of the Covid pandemic. He found it difficult to nail down the No.1 position and was heavily criticised for a string of poor performances that hampered his progress under both Neil Lennon and Ange Postecoglou.

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Barkas was eventually sold to Eredivisie side FC Utrecht after impressing during an initial loan spell last season and he gave an honest account of his stint at Parkhead on a recent podcast in his homeland.

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He confessed to having no urge to turn up for training at Lennoxtown and how he quickly fell out of love with football. However, the 29-year-old reserved some praise for Postecoglou and his man-management skills.

"Of course. I try to forget that period at Celtic," Barkas admitted. "My family and I had a hard time. I was at a huge team, but in a difficult situation with Covid. Everything was difficult, the weather, everything. Now I have found the joy of playing football, I am happy, I enjoy it.

"I reached the bottom in Scotland and now I appreciate everything. I said to myself that I didn't want to have a hard time again football-wise and on a human level. I want to see my family happy, too.

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"I was tested for my mental health, of course. We footballers are blessed because we are basically making our childhood game a profession and supporting our family from it because we get good money. But I got to the point then in Scotland where I treated it like a job.

"I was saying 'I don't want to go to training' and 'why is this happening to me?' I wasn't enjoying it. At some point, I said I had to set a goal to start enjoying it again. If you're not happy you can't perform. Despite everything, I had a good relationship with Ange Postecoglou.

"Regardless of whether I didn't play with him - although that was more to do with the team than with him - he is a very good coach. I liked his philosophy, he knows how to manage the players. I'm not surprised by everything I see him doing at Tottenham."

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