Yippee Kayal lifts gloom at Celtic
Celtic have announced the signing of Israel international midfielder Beram Kayal from Maccabi Haifa, subject to final paperwork. The 22-year-old has signed a four-year contract after completing his move on Thursday. Kayal will be unveiled at the club's Lennoxtown training ground as Celtic look to lift the gloom following their 3-0 Champions League defeat by Sporting Braga. Kayal, who has won 13 caps for Israel, becomes Neil Lennon's seventh summer signing. He follows Cha Du-Ri, Charlie Mulgrew, Joe Ledley and Efrain Juarez - who all played in the defeat in Portugal - as well as strikers Daryl Murphy and Gary Hooper. Kayal has promised to make Celtic's fans happy again after claiming playing in the Champions League meant nothing compared to starring for "one of the best clubs in the world". Kayal's hopes of appearing in the competition for a second successive season suffered a huge blow on Wednesday night when Celtic slumped to a heavy first leg defeat to Braga in the third qualifying round. The Israel midfielder completed his move from Maccabi Haifa on Thursday morning as Celtic fans continued to face up to the fact that their European season looks like ending next Wednesday. Kayal played in last season's group stages but the 22-year-old insisted signing for Celtic was all he needed to make him happy as he follows in the footsteps of boyhood idol Eyal Berkovic. The central midfielder bounced into the media room at Celtic's Lennoxtown training centre urging the gathered crowd to smile. And he soon brushed aside suggestions that his move to Glasgow on a four-year contract had been spoiled by the result in Portugal. "I came here so happy, so excited," Kayal said through an interpreter. "I'm just thinking about the moment I get on the pitch and play for the Celtic fans. This is all I care about. "When you speak about the Champions League, it's nothing. When you say Celtic, it's a big, big thing. "Celtic is a big name, it's a big community. I'm happy to play for one of the best clubs in the world and I'm not thinking about other things. "It's a big thing for me - a dream come true. All last week during the discussions I couldn't sleep. I just wanted to be where I am now. "Now I just want one more thing - to see the fans happy." Berkovic's time at Parkhead was a largely unhappy spell, with Martin O'Neill quickly moving him on after his only full season ended without a trophy following the departure of manager John Barnes. But watching Berkovic play for Celtic on television made a lasting impression on Kayal - and he wants to prove a similar inspiration to the next generation. When asked if Celtic were well-known in Israel, he said: "Who has not heard of Celtic? Someone who is dealing in basketball. "Everyone in Israel has huge respect for Celtic. "Eyal Berkovic is one of the biggest names in Israeli football. When he played for Celtic, the games were live in Israel. He represented the people of the country too. "I remember a lot of things about those games, especially the fans, the passion of the crowd. "My best memory was how my friends spoke about the games. Everyone in Israel wanted to see the Celtic result every week. "I want to be like this, that everyone back home will be waiting to know the Celtic result. This gives me motivation, I'm now here doing that." Kayal added: "Every boy in the world has a dream, like I had a dream, and I have achieved mine. "I started from nothing, I came from the street, I played street football and I made it. "I know there are boys back home wanting to do the same. I will give them inspiration because I will work hard. "It will give me a great feeling that boys back home are getting inspiration from me." Kayal rejected more lucrative offers from the likes of Galatasaray to sign for the Hoops after manager Neil Lennon sold him his vision for the club. "I talked with the coach and I was very impressed," said Kayal, who will now return to Israel to sort out a work permit. "I had heard a lot about him, I knew him as a player, he played in my position. "After the discussions I found out that he was the guy who targeted me. He saw me on a lot of occasions. I'm happy he chose me and I'm happy to play for him. "He told me he wants everyone to understand there is a new boss on the pitch, because in this position you are the boss. "I do a dirty job and I work hard for the rest of my team-mates." Kayal added: "I had other offers but I knew this was the right decision. "After discussions with the coach, it guaranteed this was the right decision."
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