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Celtic’s lucky break as midfielder turned his back on golf and tennis

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Matt O’Riley has revealed that gold and tennis were competing for his attention during his primary school days.

Born and brought up in London there were a few sports that caught his attention but fortunately for Celtic he opted to concentrate on football simply because of the greater level of enjoyment.

Getting towards the top in any sport requires hard work and sacrifice but at the age of 21 after uprooting himself to Glasgow he has one title win to his name, experience of playing in the Champions League and an outside chance of making the Danish World Cup squad.

Golf and tennis remain passions for O’Riley but his preference for football is paying off although when speaking to the Daily Record his interest in the other sports remains strong.

Asked if he could have reached similar heights in the other sports he said:

Could have? Would have? But I think whichever one I pursued, I could have done it. If you believe in something, you can do it regardless.

When I was about seven or eight, I played all three sports at quite a good level. I was playing tennis tournaments, golf tournaments and football ones, locally. So it could have been a very different route. I thought I was half decent at all of them and I chose football because I enjoyed it most at the time. It has worked out pretty well so far.

I say I’m sporty, but I’m not good at everything. To be honest, at school, I wasn’t very good at having to make stuff, or anything to do with art, I’m not very good at that. But anything that involves a ball, I think I’m pretty good at. I enjoyed all three of them at the time because I just enjoyed playing sport. I still watch all three.

Football most, then golf because I’m quite into it and then I’ll watch the big tennis games. I do follow golf a lot and enjoy watching it. I don’t play much now. The best round I shot was four or five over. That’s when I played regularly, like during the summer a year ago.

Today an u-21 match against Turkey has O’Riley’s full attention, offering a final chance to push into Denmark’s World Cup squad after joining up with the u-21 squad following his move to Celtic. The younger O’Riley was capped by England at u-16 and u-18 level.

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