EBOUE KOUASSI wants to roar in Celtic’s midfield in the run-in to the club’s aim of two historic back-to-back trebles.
The Ivory Coast anchorman was given the monicker ‘The Lion’ during his brief spell with Krasnodar in Russia before his £2.8million switch to Parkhead 13 months ago.
Illness and injury hampered his initial spell at the Hoops, but Brendan Rodgers has started the 20-year-old star in the past two games in the Premiership against Hearts and Kilmarnock.
He said: “The Lion? I like this nickname. It means the big guys in the jungle so for me on the pitch I want to be a lion. That’s why I like it.
“You see on the pitch that I am very aggressive. When the lion goes to take something, he goes with full power and that’s why I like it.
“When I was in Russia they called me ‘The Lion’ because in training or in the team, every time I was always trying.
“It’s always about focus and determination. If I play or if I don’t play, I am always positive because the first thing is the work.
“The first thing is to work for the future, so even if I play or if I don’t play, every time I am focused for the future.”
Kouassi completed his move during the transfer window of January last year, but his new career stalled after he was struck down soon after his arrival with a bout of malaria.
It was March before the Celtic fans got a first look at him in action when he started the Scottish Cup home win over St Mirren.
He also started a home league game against Partick Thistle after the split, but, apart from three more substitute appearances, that was his lot for the campaign.
There was more ill fortune when he sustained an ankle injury at the beginning of the season, which required surgery and put him back on the sidelines.
The Ivorian added: “It was difficult for me when I arrived. When I came here, I had an injury.
“But the first thing is my work. I have to work to stay focused, so for me it is important to do that.
“I don’t have any problems with this. I talked with the manager and he told me what he wants from me.
“But I understand that we have many, many players for the midfield, so I just have to work and wait for my time.”
* Kouassi was talking to Celtic TV.