Kayal promises to restore spirits at Celtic after setback in Braga

Beram Kayal has promised to lift the spirits of Celtic's fans and said playing in the Champions League meant nothing compared to starring for "one of the best clubs in the world".

Kayal's hopes of appearing in the Champions League for a second successive season suffered a huge blow on Wednesday when Celtic were beaten 3-0 by Sporting Braga in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie.

The Israel midfielder completed his move from Maccabi Haifa yesterday morning as Celtic supporters faced up to the fact that their European season looks like ending next Wednesday.

Kayal played in last season's group stages but the 22-year-old insisted signing for Celtic was all he needed to make him happy as he follows in the footsteps of his boyhood idol Eyal Berkovic. The central midfielder bounced into the media room at Celtic's Lennoxtown training centre urging the gathered crowd to smile.

And he soon brushed aside suggestions that his move to Glasgow on a four-year contract had been spoilt by the result in Portugal. "I came here so happy, so excited," Kayal said through an interpreter.

"I'm just thinking about the moment I get on the pitch and play for the Celtic fans. This is all I care about. When you speak about the Champions League, it's nothing. When you say Celtic, it's a big, big thing.

"Celtic is a big name, it's a big community. I'm happy to play for one of the best clubs in the world and I'm not thinking about other things. It's a big thing for me – a dream come true. All last week during the discussions I couldn't sleep. I just wanted to be where I am now. Now I just want one more thing – to see the fans happy."

Berkovic's time at Parkhead was largely unhappy, with Martin O'Neill quickly moving him on after his only full season ended without a trophy following the departure of manager John Barnes. But watching Berkovic play for Celtic on television made a lasting impression on Kayal – and he wants to prove a similar inspiration to the next generation.

"Everyone in Israel has huge respect for Celtic," he said. "Eyal Berkovic is one of the biggest names in Israeli football. When he played for Celtic, the games were live in Israel. He represented the people of the country too. I remember a lot of things about those games, especially the fans, the passion of the crowd. Everyone in Israel wanted to see the Celtic result every week."

Kayal added: "Every boy in the world has a dream, like I had a dream, and I have achieved mine. I started from nothing, I came from the street, I played street football and I made it. I know there are boys back home wanting to do the same. I will give them inspiration because I will work hard."

Kayal rejected more lucrative offers from clubs such as Galatasaray to sign for Celtic after their manager, Neil Lennon, sold him his vision for the club. "I talked with the coach and I was very impressed," said Kayal, who will now return to Israel to arrange a work permit.

"I had heard a lot about him, I knew him as a player, he played in my position. After the discussions I found out that he was the guy who targeted me. He saw me on a lot of occasions. I'm happy he chose me.

"He told me he wants everyone to understand there is a new boss on the pitch, because in this position you are the boss. I do a dirty job and I work hard for the rest of my team-mates. I had other offers but I knew this was the right decision. After discussions with the coach, it guaranteed this was the right decision."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy