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CIFTCI AND THE MAGNIFICENT 7

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NEW Bhoy Nadir Ciftci insists he is up to the task of being Celtic’s number seven.

The Turkish striker has been handed a four-year contract after sealing his £1.3million move from Dundee United.
Ciftci will wear the number seven jersey made famous by club icons Jimmy Johnstone and Henrik Larsson, but claims he will not let the burden of that honour weigh him down.

The 23-year-old frontman said: “It’s a favourite number for me, too. I’ve been wearing it everywhere else I’ve been. But I know what it means to this club and the players who have worn it before, so it will be a pleasure for me to wear it here, as well.”

Ciftci could make his Hoops debut in tomorrow night’s pre-season friendly with Real Sociedad in Paisley. His competitive bow is then likely to come on Wednesday as Ronny Deila’s team kick off their attempt to reach the Champions League group stages when they take on Icelandic champions Stjarnan in their opening qualifier.

However, he may have to wait for his domestic introduction after he was charged with biting Dundee’s Jim McAlister in United’s final game of last season.

He faces a Hampden hearing on July 20, but remained tight-lipped about the accusations as he was paraded at their Lennoxtown training base.

Ciftci, meanwhile, sees no problems on the horizon with Celtic captain Scott Brown.

He escaped a ban last term despite appearing to plant his knee into the Scotland midfielder’s face during a fiery Tannadice clash in March with Brown claiming after the final whistle that Ciftci had “blatantly” kicked him in the head.

The frontman, who was sent off once and booked 11 times last season, stated: “We are professionals and, on the pitch, you do your job for the team you play for.

“Scott is a very big professional and everybody would love to have them in their team. I have him in my team right now, so I will only learn from guys like him.”

Ciftci was offered the chance to link up with former Celtic defender Gary Caldwell at Wigan, but rejected the move as he waited for a transfer to the the SPFL champions to materialise. He was made to sweat, though, as United chairman Stephen Thompson knocked back two bids from the Hoops before finally giving him the green light to open negotiations on Tuesday.

He added: “Celtic was always my first choice. Everybody knows how big a club it is. I knew it before I even came to Scotland.

“I’ve played two years against them now, but you really see it once you sign for them.

“I hope I can bring a lot to the team. I’m fit to play, so it’s up to the manager if I play or not.”

Ciftci also thanked United for providing him with a platform to shine after signing him from Dutch club NAC Breda.

He said: “I had two great seasons at United and I’m really thankful for that. Everyone at the club – the staff, the fans, my team-mates – made me really welcome.

“It’s obviously really tough to leave a club like that after two beautiful seasons, but I’m looking forward to a new chapter.”

Ciftci, who scored 33 goals in 82 games for United, said: ” hope we can get into the Champions League. That’s the biggest stage and where Celtic belong. I want a taste of that.

“You get a lot of pressure put on you here and it’s nice to have that. You will always be remembered here, especially if you do well. I’m here to do well and be remembered for doing my best.

“And I aim to get better and better every day at Celtic.”
 
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