Carl Starfelt: Celtic doubters made that title win even sweeter

Carl Starfelt, along with some of his Celtic team-mates, hold up the Premiership trophy. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Sweden centre-back joined from Rubin Kazan for £4million at the end of July, just days before he suffered a nightmare debut in a 2-1 defeat by Hearts on the opening day of the Premiership season.

Starfelt drew criticism as Celtic dropped 11 points in their first seven league games and Rangers trailed by six points, but he soon formed an impressive partnership with Tottenham loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers that laid the solid foundation for a 32-game unbeaten run formed, who turned the tables and secured the championship.

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“It was absolutely incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better first year of my Celtic career,” said the 26-year-old.

Celtic defense partners Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt pose with the Cinch Premiership trophy. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“Of course that was our goal all season. We knew it was going to be tough but here we are as Scotland’s best team and champions.

“It has been an incredible journey and we have enjoyed every moment of it.

“Also, after working so hard all year, it was really nice to be able to celebrate it in style with the fans today.

“You can see how much it means to all the Celtic fans out there. It’s really the best feeling.”

Celtic were presented with the trophy after Saturday’s 6-0 win over Motherwell in front of a sell-out crowd of 60,000 at Celtic Park.

When asked if he thought his first season in Scotland would end so successfully after that disastrous opening night at Tynecastle, Starfelt added: “I don’t think I thought that far ahead, to be honest.

“Obviously I knew that when you come to Celtic you make demands on yourself and the goal will always be to win the championship. Of course we had a bit of a difficult start but we always believed in ourselves and in the team .

“I think that makes it even better. Everyone had doubts about us, a lot of people didn’t believe that we could be here as champions, but here we are today and that just makes it even better.”

With Celtic heading straight into the Champions League group stage, Starfelt has accepted that the players will need to raise the bar again next season.

“For sure. I think this can only be the beginning,” he said. “A lot of players have completed their first year in a Celtic shirt this time around and although we’ve come together pretty quickly, I think a lot of players are only going to get better will.

“And then we also have the Champions League to look forward to next season. We know it’s a very tough competition, so we have to improve. I sure think it’s possible. The demands at Celtic will always be so high and we will always strive to improve.

“You have to bring in your best game [Champions League] Matches. As a team, you really have to perform. Playing in Europe this year with this team and this coach will I think help us as we go forward and play these big European games. I can barely wait for it.

“The home games in particular will be absolutely great. You have to do your best. One wrong foot and anything can happen. I look forward to it.” Carl Starfelt: Celtic doubters made that title win even sweeter

Matthew Hallett

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