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Wanyama embracing life at Celtic

Published: Monday 19 November 2012, 15.45CET
A driving force for Group G surprise package Celtic FC, Victor Wanyama speaks to Champions Matchday about facing Xavi Hernández and the importance of wearing shirt No67.
Wanyama embracing life at Celtic
Victor Wanyama celebrates his goal for Celtic against Barcelona on matchday four ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 19 November 2012, 15.45CET

Wanyama embracing life at Celtic

A driving force for Group G surprise package Celtic FC, Victor Wanyama speaks to Champions Matchday about facing Xavi Hernández and the importance of wearing shirt No67.

Football runs in the family for Celtic FC defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama. His father Noah, a left winger, played for Kenya. His brother McDonald Mariga is at Parma FC and two more brothers play in the Kenyan Premier League. An international at 15, Victor joined Mariga at Helsingborgs IF in 2007, moving to K. Beerschot AC a year later.

Celtic signed their man in July 2011 and he chose No67 as his squad number, in honour of the Celtic side that claimed the European Champion Clubs' Cup by defeating FC Internazionale Milano in Lisbon in 1967, and became an instant fans' favourite. He is maturing fast, adjusting his game to offer more of a goal threat, as he showed with his header in the victory against FC Barcelona on matchday four, and is clearly loving life in Glasgow.

Who taught you that hard work is the way to success?
My mum and dad have always worked hard. We have a big family and it wasn't easy raising us, giving everybody what they needed. My brother Mariga has been my inspiration. I've worked to be like him, to achieve what he has, and to play for a big club like Celtic.

Growing up, were you a very competitive family?
Playing football against my brothers, who were bigger and older, wasn't easy. Whenever I lost I sulked for the whole week. That's where I learned to fight. My brothers always played hard and kicked [me], but I had to take it and carry on. Sometimes it was difficult, but I guess that's what made me who I am now.

What were your first impressions of Glasgow?
The city, the stadium, the fans … they are so passionate. Fans here love the game. I can't speak highly enough of them. They make the game better. When you have fans around you like this, it can't get any better for a player.

Goals aside, why do Celtic fans feel you are special?
My style of play and my jersey – it's a part of the club's history. I appreciate the history, what the club did in that year, that's why I chose to wear No67.

Who were your favourite players growing up?
I used to watch the Premier League and saw a lot of Paul Scholes, Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane. It was great seeing how they played, their passion.

What was it like playing against Xavi Hernández?
He's one of the best in the world, so good! It's hard to match him – he never loses the ball – and it's tough to get around him. You never get him easy, you have to be sharp to win the ball. We learned against Barça that we have to keep the ball and try to break them down on the counter. That's something we're good at and if we do it well, we'll get results against many teams.

Celtic have surprised some in Europe this season …
We've been working hard as a group and defending well. When opponents don't score, then you have a chance and we have the players to do that. Winning away in Moscow [on matchday two] was the greatest night since I've been at Celtic, for me, and the whole team. Everybody in the dressing room was jumping round, celebrating, screaming – it was unreal. It was perfect: the music was there and everybody was dancing … one of the best nights ever.

This is an abridged version of an article that appears in the latest edition of Champions Matchday, which is available in digital versions on Apple Newsstand or Zinio, as well as in print. You can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.

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Last updated: 19/11/12 16.21CET

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