Reading star dreams of wearing green and white Hoops
By: Mark Henderson on 13 Apr, 2012 09:27
ALTHOUGH he grew up hundreds of miles away from Paradise, and no-one from his family followed the Bhoys, Celtic have always been Jason Roberts´ club. As soon as he was introduced to Celtic by his Irish pal who grew up alongside him in North West London, Roberts was hooked on the Hoops.
When he played Subbuteo as a kid, his team were Celtic. As he got older and learned more about the team he had chosen to follow, it merely increased his devotion.
Having played in the English Premier League for the likes of Blackburn, Wigan Athletic and West Brom over recent years, Roberts is someone who needs no introduction.
At present the 34-year-old stars for Championship side, Reading, having moved there in January and has been helping them make a renewed push for promotion back to the English top flight.
When he isn´t banging in goals on the pitch, he´s a recognisable voice and face on BBC Radio Five and Match of the Day, putting his views on the game across a pundit. His involvement in good causes, including his own charity, The Jason Roberts Foundation, also gives him cause for satisfaction.
The striker many never have realised his ambition to pull on the Hoops in Paradise, but he remains a keen supporter, and has been delighted by the club´s progress this season under Neil Lennon.
A genuine fan, Roberts was delighted to catch up with the View for an exclusive interview where he spoke with passion at why Celtic means so much to him.
Hailing from North West London, why did you choose to follow Celtic?
The area I was brought up in, there were a lot of Irish and Caribbean people and one of my best mates was an Irish guy and he was mad on Celtic. I just went the same way. I supported Celtic and got Celtic stuff at Christmas and got Celtic Subbuteo team. From then I was sold. The kit and the fact that my best friend was a Celtic fan as well meant I just started supporting the club from there really. A lot of people have asked the question, as I was young boy from London with no real Irish or Scottish ties, and it seemed a bit of a strange one. But it was always my club.
Apart from your friend being a supporter, what else attracted you to the club initially?
As a kid, it there were Celtic supporters in the area of North West London and then there was the Subbuteo, but then you grow up and understand what the club is, what it represents and how passionate people are about it. Then it takes a life of its own. I didn´t really have the honour to go there until about four or five years ago when I went up and watched a derby and it was everything I expected it to be, so all my family are Celtic supporters now as well.
What do you think makes the club so special?
I think it´s the way people feel about the club and what it means to people. It´s an institution. It´s bigger than football. Anywhere you go around the world, you see Celtic fans and they are fans for all different reasons, and my reason might seem bizarre. But it´s so important to people.
So how much would it mean to you, to run out wearing the Hoops at Celtic Park one day?
Whenever it looks like I´m moving, it´s always been one of the things that a lot of people talk about but it´s never happened for whatever reason. There have been talks on a number of occasions but when I say talks, I mean paper talk. Sometimes, I guess it´s not meant to be as Celtic have always had top strikers and top players. It´s one of those things. I try to not have any regrets in my life and remain positive. I´m not getting any younger so the chance of it happening is slim. But before I finish, I would definitely like to play at Celtic Park. It´s an ambition of mine to play a game.
With the team in the midst of a terrific run of form and challenging for automatic promotion to the Premier League, how have you enjoying things at Reading since moving there in January?
Things are going really well. I knew how good the team was when I was watching from Blackburn but they have really surprised. From the level I thought they were, to win so many league games on the spin and make a real good go at trying to go up through the automatic places is amazing, so all credit to everyone. But there is a long way to go so we just have to remain positive about getting there as it would be great for the club. But it will be tough as there are some good teams in this league and we have to remain focused. But I´m enjoying the challenge, I always have, and enjoying my football as much as ever.
As regards Celtic this season, how pleased have been by the team´s progress this season.
I think from everyone´s point of view, everyone was disappointed we couldn’t have won the league the other week over at Ibrox but from my point of view, as long as we got it done that´s the main thing. And winning this title can give the squad and the manager a real sense of belief going into next season in trying to do it again. Because I know that´s what they will be looking to do again. I´m sure the manager will be saying, ´Enjoy this but you will want to do it again next season´. I think these are really exciting times for the club. We have got a really good team and some really talented players. As a fan, I´m really excited about what this team and manager can achieve
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