After a league winning season Celtic had further room for celebration as their midfield stalwart, Norwegian Stefan Johansen, picks up the Scottish Player Of The Year award
Norwegian gambling laws being what they are, particularly in regards to the internet where a state monopoly displays all the unwelcome longevity of a brain tumor, one wonders just how many of that fair land put some money down at ComeOn! Sportsbook or the like on the prospect of one of their own winning the PFA Scottish Player Of The Year award. The chances are very few, alas, because it was indeed a Norwegian that took the award this year.
PFA Player Of The Year
• Celtic’s Stefan Johansen wins
• Club wins League championship
• Also gains League Cup win
Of course the award was somewhat signposted by the same player winning the same honors from the supporters and players of his club. That club is Celtic FC the last word in Scottish football unless you’re a Rangers fan, and the player who is so pleased as punch to have been picked out to receive these accolades is Stefan Joahnsen the 24 year old from Vardo who began his football career at the almost ideal age of 14 when he joined Bodo/Glimt.
In those ten years he’s come a long way, as they say, moving to Stromsgodset for the 2010 season developing as a player and becoming a first team regular and won the Statoil Talent Prize in 2012, and then assisted his team in winning their first league title for 43 years, whereupon he was voted Midfielder of the Year in the Norwegian league. In January 2014, at a transfer fee of 2,000,000 GBP, Johansen signed a three and a half year deal with Celtic the Scots legends.
“I came here in January in the middle of a season under Lenny,” said Stefan Johansen looking pleased after getting the award. “I went into the team pretty quickly but it takes time to adapt to the game here. It’s a little more physical than in Norway and the tempo is higher so it took time.” A challenge he met and overcame as the team, now under fellow Norwegian Ronny Deila, moves forward after a very successful 2014-15 season.
Illustrious History Continues
Celtic have been playing since 1888, their first game against (guess who?) Rangers, which was described as a “friendly encounter” but their win, 5-2, is probably still a source of amusement to fans of the club and irritation to those of their rivals ever since, Rangers. The team’s success has been as illustrious as such a lengthy history would warrant, and despite the odd slump in performance overall their time in the top flight of Scottish football has been outstanding.
Their golden era was under Jock Stein in the sixties when they seemed unbeatable, especially in 1967 when they won all the competitions they entered and became the first British team to win the European Cup that year beating Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon. Their trophy win list is extensive and the despite a fiscal crisis in the nineties nearly sinking the club loyal supporters kept this institution of Scots football alive and well, and indeed improved upon it.
When Martin O’Neill took over in 2000 the club had just recovered from needing to be rescued by Fergus McCann from bankruptcy in 1994, and only narrowly stopping Rangers from winning a ninth league title in a row in 1998 (which would have beaten Celtic’s record) but that didn’t stop him leading them to their first treble since the Stein era, and his replacement in 2005, legendary Gordon Strachnan, took them to a third title in a row, only the third manager to do so.
Celtic’s record is as impressive as it is long lived, they’ve won the league championship 46 times, the Scottish Cup 36 times and the league cup 15 times. Their masterly performance this last season in the league demonstrating just what a powerhouse they are, and those that like to bet on sport in Norway might thus want to look at backing them next season especially as their central core hails from the Nordic nation.
Proud Johansen Hungry For More
“I’m very proud to get the award,” Johansen said on winning the PFA Scottish Player of the Year. “I have the award from the Celtic fans as well so it means a lot to me because it shows you’ve had a good season and developed as a player. It’s an honor to me to get these awards, especially when you think about the quality here at Celtic and the other clubs as well.” But he did have to admit that it was a surprise to get both.
“I don’t know about others but I don’t look at this before a season.” He said not having been gambling news of such accolades would come his way. “ I always aim for the title with the club and for me it’ll always mean more to get the title but, as I said, it means a lot as it means you’ve had a good season and helped the team achieve what they want.” And indeed the only mild fly in the ointment was the lack of a Scottish Cup win, but that doesn’t mean Johansen isn’t hungry for more silverware.
“I came to Celtic to win trophies,” Johansen agrees. “We were aiming for the treble this year and it would have been really great if we did it but I’ve won the league two times in a row and the League Cup this year. I still have ambitions to win more trophies with Celtic and all the players and fans want us to be in the Champions League next year and that’s an experience I’ve never had as a football player so I’m looking forward to next season.”
Given their form you probably wouldn’t want to bet against them at ComeOn! Sportsbook or the plethora of UK sports betting sites, and they’re looking forward to the qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League begin again in July, aiming once again to win as many trophies as possible. Peter Lawwell, Celtic’s chief executive, has promised Ronny Deila a great deal of fiscal weight in the transfer market and that might make them a team to bet on whether you live in Scotland or across the North Sea in Norway.