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Elhamed hopes to repay Celtic fans for rousing reception

Hatem Abd Elhamed hopes he can vindicate his reception after being bowled over by the Celtic Park crowd.

The Israel international was introduced to the Celtic fans at half-time during their 5-0 Champions League qualifying win over Nomme Kalju after completing his move from Hapoel Be’er Sheva earlier in the day.

“It was amazing when I went on the field, to see all the fans and this amazing stadium,” the 28-year-old defender said.

“It was very, very exciting for me. Hopefully, I can prove I deserve to be part of Celtic.

“I’m very happy and proud to be a Celtic player. Celtic is a very famous club in the world.

“There are various channels in Israel that always show the games live. Many Israeli players have been here so I know a lot about Celtic.

“They are a club that always wants to win trophies and to go through to the Champions League. These are things I also want to do.”

Elhamed was a team-mate of former Celtic player Efe Ambrose and current Hoops star Nir Bitton at Ashdod and made some enquiries ahead of his move.

“I spoke with Nir and Beram (Kayal) and they said very good things about the people here and the club,” he said. “They say it’s like a family here and that I can do good things here.”

Elhamed has been brought in to replace Mikael Lustig but Celtic are also closing in on another right-back. And the player is equally happy to play in central defence if called upon.

“I’m a player that can do many things,” he said.

“I am very quick and good with the ball, a comfortable player. I can do a good job as a right-back and a centre-half.

“I have always been a coach player. If the coach asks me to play right-back, I will do everything to be good there, and if he asks me to play centre-half, I will be the same. Both of these positions are OK for me.”

Elhamed is not eligible for Celtic’s second leg in Estonia next week so his debut could come against familiar opposition. Cluj or Maccabi Tel Aviv await in the third round with the Romanians 1-0 up after their home tie.

The former Dinamo Bucharest loan player said: “I scored against Cluj when I played in Romania and I have played many games against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli league.

“I expect a good game. We are Celtic and should come with confidence and give 110 per cent to go through.

“I did a pre-season with Hapoel Be’er Sheva and I’m ready to play.”