Kristoffer Ajer

Date of Birth: 17 Apr 1998
Debut: V Lincoln Red Imps 20 July 2016
Nationality: Norway
Signed: 17 February 2016

The towering Norwegian central defender arrived at Celtic as a midfielder in early 2016, but made the step forward to the first team by taking a step backward on the pitch into the heart of the Hoops defence.

He joined the club as a 17-year-old while still at school and going through his driving lessons, but he was a teenager with a difference – he had already captained previous club IK Start in his homeland at the age of 16 years old. In doing so, he became the youngest ever skipper of a side in the Tippeligaen, the top tier of Norwegian football.

Ajer was handed the armband on April 7, 2015 in what ended as a 1-1 draw with Lillestrom (formerly managed by Celtic legend, Davie Hay) – a club he had played with at youth level just a year earlier. His youth CV had previously started with a stint at Raelingen in 2009 while still in his pre-teens before moving to Lillestrom a year later and staying there until 2014.

His prodigious displays for IK Start, which saw him score nine goals in 54 league games, caught the eye of Celtic, and in January 2016, the youngster was invited over for a week’s trial.

That stint at Lennoxtown was a complete success and he signed a four-year deal with the Hoops that saw him initially return to Norway before properly teaming up with his new team-mates in June, 2016.

The Norwegian’s Celtic debut came against Lincoln Red Imps in the UEFA Champions League at the start of his first season as the Hoops turned around a first-leg deficit and went on to dominate the domestic scene in the Invincible season.

The second half of that season, though, after converting from midfielder to defender, was spent on loan at Kilmarnock and he gained invaluable first-team experience while at Rugby Park.

Known for celebrating tackles as energetically as strikers laud their goals.

Since then, Ajer has slotted almost seamlessly into the Celtic defence and is now a regular in the side, known for celebrating tackles as energetically as strikers laud their goals, while his strident forays forward have delivered the odd goal for himself as well.

His first, like his debut, came in a 3-0 European win when the Hoops beat FK Suduva at start of the 2018/19 season. His goal stats, though, won’t include perhaps his most lauded strike – the final spot-kick in the Scottish Cup final shoot-out with Hearts that sealed the Quadruple Treble in December 2020.

Capped at every age level for Norway, Kris Ajer made his top-team debut in a 4-1 home friendly win over Australia alongside Mohamed Elyounoussi in March 2018. The visiting Socceroos featured Celtic team-mate, Tom Rogic as well as former Hoops player, Jackson Irvine, and Ajer came into the 2021/22 season with 23 full caps.

“Here at Celtic, you’re only as good as your last game, you have to perform every single time.”

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