DEDRYCK BOYATA has thanked Celtic for kick-starting his international career with Belgium.
The talented central defender, who was outstanding his nation’s 3-0 Euro Finals win over Russia, has revealed how grateful he is to the Parkhead side.
Boyata, who was signed by Ronny Deila in a cut-price £1.5million deal in 2015, admitted: “From 2010 to 2016, when I didn’t play for Belgium, there were some difficult moments for me.
“I was coming through at Manchester City, where the competition was intense. And the decision to go to Celtic, where I played many more matches, really helped me.
“And now I am not saying I should play, because things are always fluid. But since Roberto Martinez started picking me again, he has given me so much confidence.
ON THE MOVE…Dedryck Boyata in action in February 2019 – his last season at Celtic.
“A very big moment for me was the 2018 World Cup. It had been a difficult season with the injury from January to April.
“But I worked very hard to get in to that squad and was given the chance after injuries to Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen to play in the early matches, and did okay.”
Boyata, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “My preferred position is in the middle of the three at the back, but I have played on the left and we try different positions in training.
“Every player has their own way of dealing with matches. But the confidence that the coach has given to me is playing a big part in my performances for Belgium.
“At 30 now, I have matches behind me and experience of major tournaments. I know how to deal with the pressure.
“My role against Russia was to take care of Dzyuba. We knew Russia would look to him for his power and I was able to do what was needed to stop him.”
Boyata, of course, left the Hoops in controversial circumstances after becoming a first-team regular during the Brendan Rodgers regime.
The Belgian defender refused to agree a contract extension and quit for free to join Bundesliga lower league club Hertha Berlin.