Samaras enchanted by Parkhead heritage

September 17, 2008

Celtic striker Georgios Samaras insists money cannot buy the ''history, tradition or heritage'' that characterises the Parkhead club.

The Greece international had a loan spell with the Hoops last season, helping Gordon Strachan's side pick up their third Clydesdale Bank Premier League title in a row.

Samaras, 23, resisted other offers to make the deal permanent in the summer, signing from Manchester City for around £1.2 million.

The lanky hit-man has scored five goals in his last three games and that form should see him partner Scott McDonald in tonight's Champions League Group E opener against Danish side Aalborg at Parkhead.

The former Heerenveen striker admits he is more than happy with life in Glasgow.

''Trust me, Celtic is not just a club, it is more than a club,'' Samaras said.

''The important thing is not the money, it is a mentality of the club. Other teams may be able to spend a lot of money but if you don't have the mentality it will not go very well. You cannot buy the history, tradition or heritage of Celtic.

''They really love football here and the passion is unbelievable.

''You can't imagine how many supporters around the world Celtic have. If you are playing against Manchester United, Villarreal or Motherwell, you always have a full house of around 60,000 people.

''I realised that in the game against Barcelona here last season, the atmosphere was crazy. Where in the world will you find a better thing?

''So I am really happy here and I believe that I made the right step in my career.''

Strachan reiterated the draw of the Scottish club and admitted that regular Champions League football is one advantage that many English managers miss out on.

The Celtic boss looked forward to taking the Hoops down to his former club Manchester United later in the section.

The former Southampton and Coventry chief said: ''If anybody gets the chance of being Celtic manager, they should take it.

''The Champions League nights are a huge, huge bonus. You can look back over the last few years and say these are nights you'll never forget. Hopefully, the fans will never forget the nights here.

''I had been to Old Trafford lots of times as a manager but never in the Champions League.

''The whole world is watching and it's different from sneaking in with Southampton or Coventry and sneaking out again.''