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Giorgos Giakoumakis fires Celtic doubters 'I told you so' jibe as hitman insists he was only speaking the truth

By Michael Gannon

It was a refreshing moment of honesty in a sport where players and managers will jump through hoops to avoid saying what they really think.

In February, Giorgos Giakoumakis had folk gasping and jaws dropping when he claimed Celtic were better than Rangers in every department and insisting the trophy was destined for Parkhead.

It turned out the big Greek could do a turn touring alongside Mystic Meg.

Giakoumakis stuck by his words despite a few noses being out out of joint across the city and vindication arrived in midweek when his thumping header against Dundee United delivered the title in Ange Postecoglou ’s first campaign as manager.

No one was going to deny the striker his big ‘I told you so’ moment.

Giakoumakis chuckled as he said: “I have been proved correct – thank God!

“I just said we would be champions because I felt we were the best team and playing the best football.

“It was about believing in my team and nothing else. I was being honest. I wasn’t trying to pick a fight with anyone – it was what I believed.

“Could I say I told you so? Exactly! We won the title so it was the truth.

“It wasn’t something we did not expect, to be honest. We worked hard every single day from the first to the last and tried to improve ourselves in every training session and game. It was all worth it.”

It just had to be Giakoumakis delivering the telling blow in the title race. The frontman has talked the talk but backed it up by walking the walk.

Now he’s looking forward to today’s lap of honour against Hearts.

The former AEK Athens and VVV Venlo hitman said: “It was really enjoyable at the ground on Wednesday and back at Celtic Park afterwards.

“But that was just part one of the party. Now we have the big one when we get the trophy.

“It was something really nice to score the goal. I celebrated the goal as normal as I didn’t think that would be the one to secure the title.

“In the end we all celebrated the same way because it did not matter who scored.

“But it was really nice to do it in front of our fans. They were amazing for us and I dedicate the goal to them.”

Celtic have a squad full of heroes this term but the Giakoumakis journey is as special as any.

The 27-year-old was a late arrival, struggled to get up to fitness, fluffed a crucial penalty against Livingston back in the bumpy days of autumn and then got injured when warming up to come off the bench.

Giakoumakis knows the punters had their doubts – but he knew he would win them over.

He said: “When I came I hadn’t had a proper pre-season and I didn’t play many games.

“Then I got a knee injury and needed some surgery. It was a tough period for me.

“We dropped points against Livingston because I missed the penalty and it was a tough one to try to forget. At that time the fans didn’t know what I was capable of on the field. They had their doubts, which was fair to be honest.

“But in the second half of the season I managed to score some goals and help my team win the title.

“This is what makes me so happy. Since January I proved myself and I love the real connection I have with the fans now.

“It’s the best feeling. It gives me huge motivation to play in front of them and share my goals.

“It’s such a unique feeling celebrating with these supporters. I love it.”

The supporters will salute their
stars at Celtic Park this afternoon – and also say goodbye to some departing heroes.

Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton will bid farewell after almost a decade in Glasgow and Giakoumakis reckons the pair will get some send off.

The Greece ace also sees the pair as an inspiration for what he might be able to achieve – or maybe even surpass – during his stay in Scotland.

It might be hard going with the duo hoovering up 30 major honours between them but Giakoumakis always likes to aim big.

He said: “They deserve a huge reception. They have written their names in the history of Celtic.

“I am really happy to have worked with them and got to know them as football players and as people.

“They have won so much with the team over the years and we wish them all the best for the future. This will be a special day for them. They are the best examples to me for the future here.

“If you stay at Celtic a long time you could win the same or even more. This is something they should feel really proud about.

“This is a club where you can win a lot of trophies. That is the target every year but you have to go out and do it. I am looking forward to the future.”

Giakoumakis wants to kick off the party with another win before he gears up for Greece’s hectic Nations League run in June.

He said: “I can’t relax because I have international duty! But I will enjoy the party and there is not too much pressure.

“But when you play for Celtic there is motivation to win every game, whether you have the title or not.

“Our fans will be there to support us so it’s up to us to win for them.”

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