UPDATED: Former professional Norwegian footballer Ronny Deila was unexpectedly announced as the new manager at top Scottish football club Celtic on Friday. Deila said his goal was to develop young players at the club to dominate more than just the Scottish league.
Deila’s move to Celtic followed a stellar 2013 with Drammen club Strømsgodset, when he coached the team to its first Norwegian Premier League championship in its 43 year history.
“I’m very proud today,” Deila said at Friday’s announcement in Glasgow, reported newspaper Dagsavisen. “And a gut feeling had told me that this was the right time to go after some fantastic years with Strømsgodset.” He signed a running one-year contract with Celtic, after nine years as a player and coach with Strømsgodset.
“The process has gone for a couple of weeks, but it is only in recent days that it has gained speed,” said Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell when he presented Deila as the new manager in Glasgow. “I was in Norway on Thursday and we came here and continued the conversation here. It was a long night.” Lawwell said Deila had always been high on Celtic’s list, but the club hadn’t even spoken to him before last week.
Deila said it was a tough decision to leave Strømsgodset, but Celtic was a club he’d always admired, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “One thing is what different people say about the club, but the most important is the feeling,” Deila told the press. “I feel at home here. When I began talking with the club it felt very right.”
Eyes on Europe
Celtic has long dominated the Scottish football league irrespective of its manager, reported Dagsavisen. It has been largely unchallenged since traditional rival Rangers was relegated for economic reasons a couple of years ago. Deila’s challenge will rather lie in developing the team’s young players to lead them to European Champions League success. “There are two ways a club can obtain skills,” he said. “One is to buy it. The other is to develop it. We will bring talent here, develop it, and make them ready for the Champions League.”
“Celtic is a big club, and I am looking forward to playing in Europe with the club,” said Deila, reported NRK. While he said developing the players’ attacking game and club culture was his goal, he would not immediately make major changes which could unsettle the team. “I want to develop the playing style eventually. And Celtic is a good club to develop your own players in. I think we can develop world class players here.”
Deila’s European designs could see him come up against his old club. Reporters asked him if he wanted to meet Strømsgodset in the Champions League qualifiers. “No, but I hope to meet them in the group stage,” he replied with a grin.
There was also speculation on whether Celtic fans would be treated to the sight of Deila in his underwear. The good-humoured coach stripped down following Strømsgodset’s Norwegian championship last year, pictures that have become famous since the Celtics deal was announced.
“It was something I promised Strømsgodset,” Deila explained. “I said I would “strip” if we were not relegated. We weren’t, and I kept my promise. But the pictures are not so good, but it was a bit of a bad angle,” he laughed. Deila shot a sideways glance at Lawwell when reporters asked if he’d do the same again. “Yes, if Celtic wins the Champions League,” he said, to laughter from the crowd.
Deila’s last match with his Norwegian team was on Monday. “It’s very emotional for me to leave Strømsgodset,” he told newspaper Drammens Tidende. “This club is so dear to me. I have a special relationship with the people in the club and with the supporters. The real love and support I have felt the whole time in the club, I will always have with me.”
He said the club had never been stronger, and said he was not worried about its future. Deila was due to leave for Scotland on Tuesday, ahead of the new season starting on June 24.