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Vasilis Barkas On FC Utrecht, His Time At Celtic And Learning From Joe Hart

Vasilis Barkas On FC Utrecht, His Time At Celtic And Learning From Joe Hart
Vasilis Barkas On FC Utrecht, His Time At Celtic And Learning From Joe Hart

You joined FC Utrecht permanently in the summer of 2023 after spending last season on loan at the club. How happy are you with your time at the club so far?

“I am very happy. We are doing what we need to do in order to challenge for the European places. That was the aim for us and we are not there yet.

“I love playing for our fans, they seem to love me, and I love them as well. They supported me from the first moment when I came here last season and I want to thank them because their support drives me on to succeed for them and this club.”

Before coming to FC Utrecht, you joined Celtic from AEK Athens in a high-profile transfer in 2020. How do you reflect on your time in Scotland when you look back now?

“It was a move that excited me at the time, but the timing was unlucky as no one knew that Covid would have the impact on things as it did.

“I went to another country to play outside Greece for the first time and due to the situation, players had to be in different changing rooms and stay apart from each other as much as possible.

“That meant that I was not able to have the connection with my teammates like I had at AEK before I arrived.

“I was also not able to enjoy the simple things such as going out for coffee as you were not allowed to with the Covid rules.

“I felt like I did not have a period to acclimatise to Scotland as I would have liked which impacted on my mental health and then in my ability to perform as I had before.

“People may look at me and say that it did not work out and that is true, but Celtic is a big club in European football, and I always have to thank them for what they gave me as it was my first experience of football abroad and I saw a different football culture.

“Sure, it did not work out for me as I would have liked but that is life, and it cannot be changed.”

“Joe Hart was a fantastic person as well as being a fantastic player, with a strong sense of humour also.

“He achieved so much by winning the Premier League and FA Cup at Manchester City, but he never had an ego. He was humble and worked hard every single day in training.

“We had a strong relationship and shared many laughs together. It was a pleasure to know him.”

Given your strong run of form at FC Utrecht, is your aim to establish yourself again within the Greek national team going forward?

“In all honesty, I do not think about it.

“Of course, it is always an honour to represent the national team, but I only think about playing well for FC Utrecht and if I am good enough then they call me in the national team.

“One thing is for sure; I will always be available for my country whenever they need me.”

The club are currently in the hunt for European football. How much would it mean to you and the club if you could qualify for Europe?

“It would be the best feeling because we have played the whole season with the aim of qualifying for European football in mind.

“We had a bad start to the season but our standards, but now we are ready, I think, to qualify for Europe.

“We will give everything until the end of the season to make it happen.”

Finally, Vasilas, it seems like you’re really at home in Utrecht. How proud are you of the relationship that you have with the fanbase?

“Absolutely, I feel at home here.

“Of course, my mother is Dutch which helped me settle into the culture.

“I have a lot of friends here on and off the pitch, I love to play for Utrecht and for our fans.

“It is an honour for me to play for them and to play in such a strong league as the Eredivisie.”