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Friday 28 July 2017

Jonny's delight as Celts move is finally a reality

Dubliner hails Rodgers effect and is raring to go at Parkhead

Jonny Hayes in action for the Republic of Ireland. SPORTSFILE
Jonny Hayes in action for the Republic of Ireland. SPORTSFILE

Ireland international Jonny Hayes has revealed his delight at finalising a three-year deal with Scottish treble winner Celtic.

Hayes, who opened the scoring against the Hoops in the Scottish Cup final last month before ending up on the losing side, has been a key player for the Dons since joining them from Inverness in 2012.

Ryan Christie will join Aberdeen from Celtic on a season-long loan.

Dubliner Hayes was the only non-Celtic player to feature on the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association player of the year shortlist.

"I'm delighted," he said.

"It's been in the pipeline for a little while now but I'm pleased to finally get here. I was eager to get it over the line for the last few weeks.

"Celtic have done well over the last few seasons and with the manager (Brendan Rodgers) coming in last year he raised the level again. It was hard last year seeing all the celebrations and all the stuff on social media and you want that for yourself and to be part of it.

History

"Now it's my chance and hopefully, going forward, I can create my own little bit of history and take the chance I've been given."

Hayes admits the prospect of playing Champions League football was one of the big attractions of moving to the Glasgow giants.

"I can't wait to get back training," he explained. "Once everything was signed off, I said to Tim Williamson (Celtic physio) that I was just looking forward to that first day in training and getting started.

Ireland midfielder Jonny Hayes is pictured after signing his three-year Celtic deal
Ireland midfielder Jonny Hayes is pictured after signing his three-year Celtic deal

"You can't get away from the Champions League," he said.

"I can imagine it is the reason many players have wanted to come here. Not only is it the size and stature of the club, Champions League nights and the atmosphere are a massive factor in wanting to come here.

"Whether you're a football fan or not, everybody knows about the atmosphere of Champions League nights at Celtic Park. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a part of that."

Hayes has long been a Brendan Rodgers fan, and he's delighted to have been given the opportunity to link up again with the Northern Irishman at Celtic.

When the 29-year-old was just a young player making his way in the game, he started his career at Reading where the current Celtic manager was working with the club's Academy. And Hayes has never forgotten the help and support that Brendan Rodgers gave him at that time.

"Brendan and I go back a long time," he explained. "I worked under him at the academy at Reading but I hadn't seen him for a few years until the game at Pittodrie earlier in the season. He's still the same man.

Jonny Hayes embracing Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers during his time at Aberdeen
Jonny Hayes embracing Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers during his time at Aberdeen

"He's brilliant to work for and he looks at every little detail. He was a huge factor in wanting to come to Celtic. He's up there with the best coaches I've ever worked for and I'm glad I'll get to play for him again."

And Hayes also admitted that, while it was good to speak to Rodgers again last season, the Hoops boss was happier with the results in the games between Celtic and Aberdeen than he had been.

"It was good to see Brendan," Hayes said. "I still remember how well he looked after me when I went over to England. When I was away from my family at a young age, he made the extra effort. He's a great man and a great manager to be working for."

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