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  • Mexican defender Efrain Juarez on what Celtic means to him

    Mexican defender Efrain Juarez on what Celtic means to him

    By: Miguel Pacheco on 06 Jul, 2015 13:42

  • EFRAIN Juarez signed for the Hoops from Mexican side UNAM in July 2010 and scored two goals in 20 games for the club.

    Now back in his homeland, he speaks exclusively to the Celtic website about his time at the club, and we are posting his answers in both English and Spanish.

    To date, you are the first and only Mexican player to have played for Celtic . What did it mean to you, does that make you proud?

    It is one of the most beautiful experiences I've had in my life, being the first Mexican to play in the SPL  and for Celtic, which is the most important team in Scotland and one of the most important in Europe filled me with pride and satisfaction. I had a good time, I was able to play in the Champions League and Europa League, and I scored in my second and third games. People treated me in the best way, I am very proud to have been in Celtic for the tradition they have. I had the opportunity to go to Ireland, where people are crazy about Celtic. I also had the opportunity to go on tour to the United States, where they know Celtic is a Scottish team, but the reality is that it also has Irish roots, and there are plenty of Irish people worldwide. The support of the people was impressive, and the affection they showed towards me at all times as well.

    What moment do you remember the most from your time at Celtic?

    I think when I scored the goals in big games and when the stadium began to sing me a song, they invented a song and sang it whenever I played, every time I started a game or when I did something good. Impressive, I had very little time at the club, and in my third or fourth game they had already invented that song for me and sang it any time they could. I remember that a lot and it gives me goosebumps. It is one of the things that I am going to keep forever. Until today, when I have had the opportunity to return to Scotland and I come across Celtic supporters, they sing me the same song because it's also very catchy and it is very good.

    How would you compare the style of play in Scotland, to the one practiced in Mexico?

    It is different. In Scotland there is a very competitive league, physically very strong, and technically good, but I think the greatest strength of the Scottish Premiership compared to the Mexican league is the physical aspect. They are always looking to score, no matter when it is, the team may be leading or losing 5-0 and they always look for a goal. In Mexico they always worry about the way to score, always trying to get out playing with the ball. Back in Scotland that does not matter, all that matters is to score when you get the chance, to move forward you have a chance, and if not they are not happy.

    What was your most valuable lesson during your time in Scottish football?

    I had many as I grew up a lot as a person and as a player. The experience of playing in such competitive football, trying every day to earn a spot made me grow in every sense, as a person, seeing other things, the Scottish culture, and the Celtic family. When I first came to the United States for the pre-season with the team, and a lot of Irish and Scots will tell you the story of Celtic, it is more than a football club for them because Celtic was founded by Marist Brothers to help other people, to create a fund to help people emigrating from Ireland to Scotland because of the hunger problem at the time. All these people telling you that the love of Celtic is in their DNA, in their blood. I think that without the Celtic, their families would not have survived and they would have not existed. They helped their ancestors to succeed in difficult times and for that, they are forever grateful. This pre-season I was in Cancun with CF Monterrey and there are  a lot of Celtic supporters on holiday there. They remembered me, and told me everything I'm just telling you now, I have the fortune of being remembered for the time spent at the club and they still recognise me. The funniest and most beautiful is that they ask for pictures, and being there you realise about their Celtic tattoos or that they cover their body with things related to the Celtic. I think that has a value, going beyond a simple fan, it is passion and appreciation for the club.

    Which Celtic player do you remember the most and why?

    Many, I spent much time with Scott Brown; he is a great guy, great captain and a great leader. With Samaras, we shared many things, also a great guy, very good person. I do not really have one in particular. I think I was fortunate to be in a very healthy, very good club, they welcomed me in the best manner, but specifically with Brownie, with Samaras, with Anthony Stokes, Mikael Lustig, Adam Matthews, many people, the goalkeepers Fraser Forster, Łukasz Załuska. And then there was Emilio Izaguirre, because we arrived at the same time and we were the only two Latinos who spoke Spanish, we got along very well, he’s  also a great guy, great player and a great person. The truth is I have very fond memories of all the people there, not only players but also the coaching staff. Neil Lennon, he did very well for Celtic as a player and as a coach as well. Passionate about the club, he could give his life for the club, and many other people, John Park, Peter Lawwell, the scouts, people in the kitchen, and the groundsstaff. I remember perfectly each of them and beyond a club; they are a family that help each other at all times.

    You are one of the few Mexican players that have been involved in qualifying games of the UEFA Champions and Europa League. What is your experience from these matches?

    As a little boy, I always dreamt of playing in European completion  one day, and fortunately I have been able not only to play in them, but to score twice in Celtic Park, with people chanting my name. These are moments that will remain, matches that are important for the club and obviously personally as well. These are goals I had, and I thank God for achieving them.

    Players like Messi and Xavi have said that Celtic fans are unparalleled, and that Celtic Park offers the best playing atmosphere in Europe. Can you tell us in detail how does it feel to play in Paradise?

    The best! There is not a moment when fans are not supporting, the team may be losing and they keep singing, chanting, and supporting them. Or they may be winning 5-0 and fans continue with the same attitude, no matter the match, the stadium is filled with over 60,000 people, an incredible crowd. Wherever we were going to play in the Champions League, Europa League or friendly matches outside of Scotland, there were many people, there is an impressive fan base at Celtic Park. I have been in important stadia, against important teams, but to compare it with Celtic Park is impossible.

    You scored twice at Celtic Park, can you describe both goals? Which one is your favourite and why?

    I have no favourite. The first was a header against Braga, we were tied 1-1, and Samaras crossed the ball, I came by surprise and put it in with the head. The second was two weeks later in the Europa League qualifiers. It was the first leg at Celtic Park against Utrecht, and I opened the score around the 20th minute, they passed to me while I was entering the box, I controlled the ball, faced the goalkeeper and finished it. It was an important game, full stadium for a Europa League qualifier, awesome in every way. A unique experience, I remember that moment like it was yesterday.

    Celtic Soccer Academy Coaches will be in Mexico City delivering a youth camp during the first week of August. Do you think other Mexican players might follow your footsteps and play for the Scottish champions in the future?

    I think so. Mexican players are increasingly in the eyes of major European clubs, and why not think about Celtic, which is an important team and has already experience with Mexican people. Why not think that young Mexican players can do well and that Celtic can recruit them at some point.

    Do you have any regrets from your time at Celtic?

    No, nothing. I remember everything I lived perfectly, I have no regrets.

    For the Spanish version, click HERE

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