THERE were tears among the cheers for Celtic title winner Liel Abada.
The Israel international winger was a sensation at the Hoops in his debut campaign following his £3.5million arrival in July.
Abada, only 19 at the time, celebrated his debut with a goal in the 1-1 Champions League first leg qualifier against FC Midtjylland on his way to double figures.
He won a Premier Sports League Cup medal in the 2-1 win over Hibs at Hampden in December and completed the silverware double by playing his part in the Premiership title coming back to Parkhead for the tenth time in 11 years.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Liel Abada, flanked by Filipe Jota and Giorgos Giakoumakis, celebrates Celtic’s title triumph after the 6-0 win over Motherwell.
The touchline terror made 36 league appearances – missing only two games – and his consistency earned him accolades from his manager and team-mates while his fellow-professionals voted him the Young Player of the Year.
However, there was still a tinge of sorrow for the Bhoy Wonder with the news his former club were relegated from the Israeli top flight.
Abada admitted: “I was very disappointed for Maccabi Petah Tikva. I believe they will return to the Premier League soon.
“I saw the game, I saw that they were disqualified for a goal. I really appreciate all the people at Maccabi Petah Tikva, I was surprised that they went down.”
Abada, though, is fully focused on continuing to shine for Ange Postecoglou’s team and is ready to live out a childhood dream by performing in the Champions League.
DOUBLE TAKE…Liel Abada holds the newly-won League Cup with his fellow-Israeli Nir Bitton after the 2-1 victory against Hibs at Hampden in December.
The international ace continued: “I came to Celtic with expectations of myself. Over time, I worked hard in training and games.
“I was privileged to have an Israeli in a team like Nir Bitton and he helped me adapt quickly. I am very happy about this season, individually and as a team.
“I am a person who believes in himself and his abilities and I expected more from myself than what was expected when I arrived at Celtic. I am very happy with the season.”
One of the player’s most memorable goals was his neat flick from Reo Hatate’s left-wing cross for the third goal just before the interval in the three-goal romp against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s stunned Ibrox side as the Hoops went to the Premiership pinnacle for the first time since August 3 2020.
The newly-arrived Japanese midfielder claimed the first two goals in the pulverising encounter at the beginning of February and Abada’s effort completely floored the visitors. Celtic moved into pole position and remained there all the way to sealing the crown in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Tannadice last week.
DEBUT DAZZLER…Liel Abada celebrates after scoring in his first game for the Hoops in July.
Reflecting on his strike behind the bamboozled Allan McGregor, Abada, speaking to sport5.co.il in his homeland, said: “There’s no need to talk about it, a lot of people know about the rivalry. Every game is important for the club and the fans. It’s a crazy atmosphere. It’s hard to explain in words.
“I do not want to compare this league to a league in Israel. Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv have a crazy atmosphere.
“The league in Scotland is very difficult and good. A lot of people underestimate it, but this is a good league. “
Bitton, of course, has ended his nine-year association at Parkhead and, along with Tom Rogic, made an emotional farewell in the 6-0 win over Motherwell as the curtain came down on a pheneomenal campaign in the east end of Glasgow.
ACROBATIC ANTICS…Liel Abada attempts an overhead-kick against Motherwell at Fir Park.
Abada said: “The ceremony they did for Nir was very exciting. I learned a lot from him and I wish him success. His next team? He will do what is right for him. I wish him all the best in the world.”
Answering queries about speculation on his future with clubs in major leagues apparently showing an interest, Abada added: “It’s not right now to talk about what will happen next.
“I just finished my first season at Celtic. I’m having fun here, I’m fine here. What will happen next? I cannot know.
“I will be with family and friends and prepare ourselves for next season. It will be very significant.
“It’s my childhood dream to play in the Champions League.”