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Liel Abada happy to follow James Forrest’s example at Celtic

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WHEN James Forrest was substituted with 25 minutes to play in Celtic’s emphatic 6-1 win over Hibernian on Saturday, the 31-year-old could reflect on a productive afternoon. Not content with just scoring a Premiership goal for the 14th consecutive year, the winger went on to score a hat-trick to take his tally with the Glasgow club to 100.

It’s a great achievement for the Scotland internationalist, who serves as a walking example of what can be achieved during a long spell at Parkhead. When the 31-year-old eventually hangs up his boots, he will retire as one of the most decorated players in Celtic history.

That longevity served as inspiration for the man who replaced Forrest on Saturday afternoon. Israel internationalist Liel Abada was contracted for the remainder of the resounding victory over Hibs and although he had a shot or two himself, the 21-year-old was unable to register himself. even on the score sheet.

The right winger isn’t too concerned about that fact. Instead, he insists that as long as his teammates are able to pick up the slack, as they did against Lee Johnson’s side, he remains happy with their performance.

“It was a good win and I think it was important to regain our confidence in the league after losing to Leipzig,” Abada said. “I’m happy with the score and we could have scored more.

“Sometimes in football you miss chances and don’t score goals. I don’t worry about the stats. For me, it’s about getting the job done on the ground.

“It doesn’t matter if I score or other players score, as long as someone scores and we win every game.”

He continued: “We have a very good team full of very good players. Every player on the team can be in the lineup.

“A game I score, a game Jamesy will score, a game Daizen [Maeda] will score, [Giorgos] Giakoumakis, Kyogo [Furuhashi], [Sead] Haksabanaovic – it’s really good because it’s our job.

Forrest made headlines over the weekend and Abada was thrilled to see his teammate get his share of glory. Both players could well compete for the same position in Ange Postecoglou’s starting line-up, but the Israeli feels he benefits from the man’s experience at the club.

“Jamesy is a very good friend and he learned a lot,” Abada said. “He’s been at the club for a long time, played a lot of games and scored a lot of goals.

“I can learn so much from him and I was so happy to see him score a hat-trick. I talk to him all the time and he gives me a lot of advice.

“Everyone in the team are good friends and really stick together. All the older players like Jamesy are amazing at helping young and new players.

“What I admire the most about him is his movement and his technique. I’m happy to have him as a teammate and hope he can keep scoring for us.

Abada believes Forrest’s trophy-laden career shows what can be achieved at Celtic. He was just a child when his team-mate made the first of his 451 first-team appearances for the champions – scoring against Motherwell on his debut in 2010 – but even then harbored ambitions to play the professional game .

“I think I was in school, I’m not sure,” Abada said. “I think I had just started playing football.

“It has always been my dream. I’m really happy to be here and I’m really happy to play for Celtic.

“It’s a really amazing club with amazing fans. I’m really happy to be here and I hope to play a lot of games here.

After leaving his homeland in the summer of 2021 to sign for Celtic, Abada is now happy and settled in east Glasgow. On the pitch he has developed a solid understanding with his team-mates and off the pitch he is getting to grips with the language after arriving in Scotland without being able to speak English.

Fellow countryman Nir Bitton, who left Parkhead in the summer after a long spell at the club, has helped the striker acclimate to his new surroundings and Abada says he still stays in touch with the midfielder.

He added: “Nir helped me a lot last year as it was my first time to Scotland and I didn’t speak English.

I didn’t know the language but he always took care of me. It really helped me last season. We are still friends, we still talk via Facetime and I wish him all the best.

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