Beram Kayal: I want to be a leader for Celtic just like Neil Lennon

BERAM KAYAL may be a virtual unknown in Scotland but the latest Celtic recruit is vowing to make a name for himself as the new Neil Lennon.

The midfielder from Maccabi Haifa has signed a four-year deal to become Hoops boss Lennon’s seventh summer capture.

Now his aim is to be the huge influence the Northern Irishman was as enforcer in a side that excelled at home and in Europe under Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan.

Kayal said: “I like to play where the manager did on the park.

“I talked with him and was impressed. I knew him as a player because he operated in my position.

“After my deal was completed I then learned he had been the one to target me for the club.

“He saw me on lots of occasions and I’m happy to play for him. I do a dirty job on the park, like he did, and work hard for my team-mates.

“I was a big player in Israel but Celtic is different, bigger than anything I’ve known before. Bigger than the Champions League. When you speak about the Champions League it’s nothing. When you say Celtic it’s a big thing.”

It might not necessarily have felt that way at the club’s Lennoxtown training complex yesterday when the 22-year-old arrived with his agent to complete the signing formalities.

This was the morning after the night before when Braga had plunged the Celtic fans into despair with a 3-0 win in the Champions League qualifier that now needs to be hauled from the fire.

Everyone, Lennon included, has been burned by the flames. But Beram was the extinguisher of all negativity as he described what it meant to him to be part of the club he’d watched on TV from boyhood.

Growing up in Israel meant Kayal was introduced to regular coverage of Scottish football when Eyal Berkovic signed for Celtic during John Barnes’ time as manager.

He said: “Eyal is one of the biggest names in Israeli football. Celtic’s games were live on television when he played for the club.

“He represented the people of his home country every time he wore a Celtic shirt. Everyone in Israel looked out for the Celtic result every week.

“I want it to be like that again where I’m concerned. This is what gives me my motivation.

“Every boy in the world has a dream and I have achieved mine.

“I started from nothing. I came from the streets and made it to the top. Now I want to give inspiration to the boys back home in Israel.”

It was the kind of upbeat talk the Celtic fans needed to hear while they’d been stunned by the thought that a Europa League qualifier would need to be faced unless their team can pummel the Portuguese and stay in the continent’s premier competition.

And if Beram was putting on an act for his new employers then it was Oscar-winning performance.

He said: “This is a big thing for me, a dream come true. I couldn’t sleep during the transfer talks.

“I had oth er offers but I knew Celtic was the right decision. Who hasn’t heard of Celtic? Someone who only knows about basketball or something?”

Beram might know the club’s history but aims to do whatever he can to rewrite the bit about Celtic being championship runners-up for the last two seasons.


He said: “A club like Celtic should not even speak of second place. I’ve come from a big club in Israel and I know the pressures involved in having to win every week.

“Football without competition is no good. You should never feel secure or take anything for granted.

“The coach was a fighter with those beliefs when he played for Celtic and I’m similar.”

Kayal went online in his hotel room to watch Celtic go off the boil in Braga and he took the result to heart. He said: “I saw the game and Celtic didn’t deserve to lose by three goals. I believe that with the fans at our back and a feeling of self-belief Celtic can save this tie.”

Beram had an answer for everything, including a teetotal Muslim’s reaction to wearing a jersey bearing the name of a drinks manufacturer on the front.

He said: “My religion is inside me and I am respectful. But I am a Celtic player and that means when I’m on the street, on the pitch and when I go back home on holiday.

“People ask me what I think about my first game against Rangers and I tell them all I’m interested in is Celtic.

“I want to be No.1 with Celtic and this is what I’ll eat, sleep and strive for over the next four years.

“There is only one other thing that concerns me and that is to make the Celtic supporters happy.”

The man who can do that in the aftermath of the bungle in Braga will easily have won his way into the affections of the fans.


1988: Born in Jadeidi, northern Israel.

2001: Signs for Maccabi Haifa’s youth side as a 13-year-old. 2006: Makes first-team debut for Haifa aged 17.

2007: Plays key role in Israel Under-21 side that wins the Valeri Lobanovsky Memorial Tournament in Ukraine.

2008: Becomes regular with Haifa and wins first senior cap. 2009: Makes Champions League group stage debut and helps Haifa to another league title.

2010: July 29: Signs for Celtic.

From Daily Record

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