No Celtic player will get to play in the Champions League proper this season and not even many ex-Celts can lay the claim. Cillian Sheridan has had more loan moves than hot dinners but his travels have led him all the way to Cyprus and to the Champions League group stages.
Sheridan only joined Celtic in 2006 and quickly found himself in the first team, two days after his debut he was offered a 3 year deal by the club. Celtic have had their fare share of young hoops bursting onto the big stage but it is only a handful who manage to maintain top flight football. The Forward went from Champions League football against the likes of Manchester United to soon finding himself listed for loan. From memory I can’t think of too many young prospects who go out on loan and find their way back into the big time.
Sheridan looked to have joined a long list of players who were good, but not good enough for the first team. He started off with a loan moves to Motherwell, Plymouth Argyle, and St Johnstone before eventually getting picked up by CSKA Sofia in 2010. He spent the year in Sofia before getting loaned back to Scotland with St Johnstone and then eventually bought by Kilmarnock. His Kilmarnock season was is most successful bagging 9 goals in 26 games.
In 2013 he signed for Apoel and featured heavily for them in his first season. It’s almost six years since he made his Champions League debut for Celtic but this season he helped secure a Champions League group place when he scored in the 75th minute against HJK for Apoel. Both player and club will have their work cut out for them as the draw for group F threw up Barca, Ajax and PSG. Easy.
This time around the player is taking nothing for granted as it all came in it’s stride the first time as a 19 year old.
“As a 19-year-old with Celtic I probably didn’t appreciate just what a big deal it was to be in the competition and I was only a young lad sort of coming into the team but this time I’ve played my part in getting the side there and feel much more like one of the team.
“It’s good; the build-up to the game last night really brought it home just how important this all is; it’s the pinnacle of the club game.”
Apoel will travel to the Camp Nou on Day 1 to face an already flying Barca team and I’m sure any manager taking a squad of underdogs to the Camp Nou will have a certain Neil Lennon dvd to study two home and away ties that nearly got rewarded with an unbeaten Barca experience.
With not much Celtic related to cheer for in the Champions League this season, Celts are Here will be routing for Cillian especially against an Ajax, a support that still leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Good Luck Cillian!