Matt O’Riley explains how phone call with Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou sold him on move to Parkhead
The 21-year-old midfielder has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Hoops
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The 21-year-old midfielder knocked back several English Championship clubs, including Swansea City to complete his move to Parkhead after the Hoops activated MK Dons £1.5million release clause.
O’Riley, a former England youth international, began his career at Fulham before making the switch to the English League One outfit in January 2021.
He arrives in Glasgow in scintillating form after scoring seven goals and providing five assists during the first half of the season.
O’Riley explained how interest from Celtic came as a late surprise following their failed attempt to sign Australian international Riley McGree.
He admitted Postecoglou’s attacking style of football and playing in front of a massive fanbase proved the deciding factors in his decision to head north.
Speaking exclusively to Celtic TV, O’Riley said: “It feels amazing. It was my first time taking the stadium in and it was even better than I thought it would be.
“I’m really happy to be here. It’s are a massive club and I’m excited to get going.
“There were other options but then Celtic came out of the blue.
“I found out quite late and I had a phone call with Ange (Postecoglou). He came across really well and he was the one who really sold me on Celtic.
“The club is obviously massive but just speaking to him sorted it out for me. With the style he plays and him as a person, as soon I got off the phone I was ready to come.
“I always said I wasn’t going to join a club if they paid me a certain amount of money, but the style wasn’t right.
“The style is right here and that was a massive part of my decision. Ange told me the expectation is to win, but win the right way and playing proper attacking football. That’s what I’ve came here to do.
“One of the main reasons I came here was the fanbase and the size of the club. Even playing in front of 40,00 sounds a lot to me. The fact it’s 60,000 is incredible and something I’m really excited for.”
Throughout his career to date, O’Riley has bumped into several former Celtic stars, including ex-Fulham team-mate Patrick Roberts and one-time Hoops midfielder Stefan Johansen.
Peter Grant, who starred for the Hoops between 1982 and 1997, was O’Riley’s Under-23s coach at the London club and also proved a major influence on his career.
He stated: “Peter coached me during my time at Fulham in the Under-23s, a really nice guy who helped me develop a lot during my time there.
“I went to school with Pat, he’s a little bit older than me but we were in the same class and he was someone I looked up to at Fulham. He was doing really well at the time.
“I got to know Stefan (Johansen) really well as he’ from Norway and I have a little bit of Norwegian in me, so we got on really well and I’m good friends with all of them.
“It just shows that Celtic can attract people like Stef, Pat and Peter Grant, so it’s nice to follow the same routes.”
O’Riley, who became Celtic’s fifth signing of a busy January window, wore the captain’s armband on several occasions during his 12 month stay at MK Dons.
Asked whether he will bring leadership qualities to the team, he admitted: “I wouldn’t say I’m the loudest guy, to be honest.
“I probably won’t be the person that shouts at everyone but I do try to take responsibility on the pitch.
“I don’t shy away from getting on the ball and I’m not afraid to use my voice when I need to, but I try to lead through how I play and how I act.”