New Celtic signing Nat Phillips is looking forward to experiencing “special” Champions League nights at Celtic Park.
The defender, who joined the Scottish champions on loan from Liverpool at the end of the transfer window, could make his debut against Dundee on Saturday as he looks to get his Hoops career underway.
After experiencing the famous Anfield atmosphere in European nights he is expecting much of the same in the east-end of Glasgow when Celtic meet Lazio, Atletico Madrid and Feyenoord in the group stage of the continent’s biggest competition.
Phillips was signed to bolster the defensive ranks after injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers, Maik Nawrocki and Stephen Welsh and was included in Brendan Rodgers’ European squad that was revealed on Tuesday.
And after a period of sitting on the bench at Liverpool as he competed with the likes of Virgil Van Dijk for a place, he is now looking forward to making his mark in Scotland.
The 26-year-old, who has made 29 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s first team and had loan spells at VFB Stuttgart and Bournemouth, said: “I’ve gone through a period at Liverpool when I’ve not been playing a great deal and ultimately I knew I had to get to somewhere where I could have the chance of playing games regularly.
“Celtic have given me the chance to do that at a good level and at a huge club, one with a stadium that is always packed full of passionate fans, which as a player that’s what you want, to play in that kind of atmosphere at a club with ambition and aspirations.
“You always want to push towards end goals and that is something that Celtic will give me.”
Celtic will open their Champions League campaign in Rotterdam when they take on Dutch champions Feyenoord on Tuesday.
Phillips, who has five appearances at that level for Liverpool, is hoping to be involved at the top level again.
He said: “Champions League is probably the pinnacle of football for a lot of players, so it is a great opportunity to be involved in that as well.
“I’ve loved every minute that I’ve been out on the pitch in the Champions League. It’s the next level competing against the biggest and best in Europe.
“I know that Liverpool in Champions League nights has a reputation for being special and I’ve heard it’s the same at Celtic so I’m looking forward to experiencing that.”
After signing just days previously, he was at Ibrox for Celtic’s 1-0 win last week but had to settle for watching the game in the media room as his new side took a four point lead over their city rivals.
And he was impressed with what he saw.
He said: “The lads dug in well, obviously it was tough at the end, but they showed that when their backs are against a wall a bit they can dig in. But at the same time it was a huge result and a huge win, they performed well.
“I don’t think my appetite needed wetting anymore to be honest, because I was already really excited about coming here before that game, but it certainly gave me an idea as to what it’s all about.
“I can’t really overstate how much I am raring to go, I just want to get playing games for the club and make a contribution.
“I had to watch it from inside, so I didn’t get to see the atmosphere but you could obviously hear it. It’s obviously got a huge reputation that game and I think the lads done well to get the result.
“We didn’t dwell on it for too long, obviously it’s been an international break so there was a few days off then once the lads were back in it was back to working hard and working towards the next game coming up.
“I wanted to be in the dressing room, in amongst the boys taking it all in, inside in the media room wasn’t as much fun as it might have been in the stands, but at the same time it might not have been so much fun as the only Celtic person in the stands. I enjoyed it, it was good to be there supporting the team. It was a tense game to watch as well but an enjoyable one.”