Lennon: Kayal's my top boy

By Danny Caro, January 6, 2011
Comeback king: Celtic’s Biram Kayal (left) got the better of Lee McCulloch in his first Old Firm derby at Ibrox

Comeback king: Celtic’s Biram Kayal (left) got the better of Lee McCulloch in his first Old Firm derby at Ibrox

Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, praised Israel midfield Biram Kayal following his match-winning display in his first Old firm derby.

The former Maccabi Haifa player had endured an injury-ravaged start to his career in Scotland since signing in July but produced a tigerish display in midfield in the 2-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox.

Lennon said: "He did exactly what we thought he was capable of. We brought him here because he is good at breaking the play up and strong in the tackle.

"I thought he did that brilliantly. He was a bit rusty to start off with, which is understandable given the length of time he was out for. But once he found a foothold in the game he was absolutely magnificent.

"We haven't had a player like that for a while, especially away from home, who can dig in, break play up and put his foot on the ball. He did that well."

This was the greatest match of my career

Kayal, 22, enjoyed the pressure-cooker atmosphere in front of a packed house in his first start in almost three months.

"I've been in some great games in the Champions League but this was the best of all. It was a dream. Until you've experienced such a game you don't know how huge this derby is. I'm happy about the victory, especially because this was my first derby. This was without doubt the greatest and most enjoyable match of my career."

Speaking before the midweek game at Hamilton, he said: "This victory was very important for us and our season. We are going for the title and it gives us a great psychological boost."

Kayal also spoke about his frustrations recovering from surgery. "I was out for 70 days and it was very hard. You are away from the team and every day you are working hard from nine to five to get fit and healthy again. It is very difficult when you are in a foreign country and don't have the support of your family and friends."

The Bhoys recently bolstered their squad with the addition of Freddie Ljungberg. Kayal is relishing the prospect of linking up with the Swedish star. "I used to love watching him play for Arsenal when I was a kid. It will be an honour and privilege to play with him."

Last updated: 2:47pm, January 6 2011