Celtic player Andrew Gutman is hoping to “kick on” after a loan spell under a legendary Dutchman.
Work permit issues mean the American full-back is currently back home on loan with MLS side FC Cincinatti, who are managed by former Holland and Manchester United defender Jaap Stam.
The 23-year-old, who signed for Celtic last year following a spell on trial at Rangers, is hopeful he can break into Neil Lennon’s plans.
Speaking to STV News, he said: “I had to go on loan so the biggest thing for me was to get an opportunity at a high level.
“I have been able to do that in the MLS and really improved my game over the last five months.”
The chance to work under the 66-times capped Stam, who won the Champions League and three Premier League titles at Manchester United, has proved invaluable for Gutman.
He said: “He has been fantastic for me and really given me good advice on my defending, but also my willingness to go forward.
“And when someone like Jaap Stam comes to talk to you, you are going to listen. He has been at the highest level and my aim is to get to the highest level I possibly can.”
After experiencing the Celtic Park atmosphere, Gutman is desperate for a chance in the first team when he returns to Glasgow.
He said: “I had conversations when I was back at Celtic – obviously the big issue was my work permit – but what I got out of the conversation is that the manager really likes me, he rates me.
“But I need to kick on at a first-team level to show my qualities. So hopefully after this loan spell I can go back and kick on at Celtic.
“I have been watching all the games and keep in touch with some of the guys on the team. My whole goal when I signed was to play for the first team at Celtic and do as best as I can there.
“I have been to multiple games and I don’t think there is a better stadium in the world for how passionate the fans are.
“I went to one of the games against Dundee, so not one of the massive games, and there was 60,000 people there chanting and as soon as I walked in I got goosebumps because I had never experienced anything like that.
“You don’t get anything like that over here, even at NFL games or NBA games. So to be able to walk out on to the pitch one day in front of those fans would be a dream come true.”
Despite being on a trial at their Glasgow rivals when Celtic made their interest known, the Illinois native knew straight away he wanted to sign.
He said: “As an American I think we don’t truly understand the rivalry between Celtic and Rangers but I think when I got over there I understood it a lot better.
“During my trial with Rangers I heard that Celtic were interested and for me thinking about my development and career path, I decided Celtic would be the right choice for the quality of players there and how big the club is.”