Florian Wirtz admits he had to get used to the heavenly atmosphere, as Leverkusen Star teammate ranks the experience among his top three in football
Celtic Park is one of the loudest stadiums in Europe. On evenings against the best the continent has to offer, the stadium becomes a cauldron as 60,000 supporters serenade the players song after song, mingled with enchanting history and unparalleled passion. It is truly magical.
For years this loud support, lullabies and war cries have made Paradise a stronghold of European football. However, since reaching the top of the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 2013, the atmosphere has only had an impact on a few matches at this level; a mark of the growing financial disparity between us and those plying their trades in more lucrative leagues.
While the atmosphere can only carry the team so far, it remains an iconic feature of the match experience at Parkhead. The envy of many clubs around the world, the noise levels in Paradise can destabilize opposing players and allow Celtic to get an early goal. We saw something like that last night as the stadium was at its best and the Bhoys created three great chances in the opening 22 minutes. Unfortunately, the long-awaited opening goal did not arrive and the game took a different turn, but it demonstrated the role that the world-famous Celtic support still has to play.
This is something Florian Wirtz alluded to in his post-match comments with the Daily check-in. The German prodigy told the newspaper:
“At the beginning, there was an incredible atmosphere in the stadium. It takes some getting used to, but once I did it was fun playing here. Then when we were able to get into the game and score goals, it just got more fun. I loved it because it was constantly noisy.
Wirtz scored Bayer Leverkusen’s second goal of the evening with a compound strike just inside the box. At the other end of the field, Lukáš Hrádecký was exceptional between the sticks. He also took a moment to talk about the atmosphere on the Daily Record, ranking the experience very high:
“The atmosphere helped me get the best of myself,” he said.
“I would put this game among my three best experiences in football. I managed to make a few saves and they were at important points at the start of both halves. But after we scored our third goal, we had the game under control. And that was another outstanding performance from us.
“I hope that in Germany we will slowly go in this direction again. There is nothing better. What gave me the most joy was playing in front of a full stadium. I liked it.”