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Israel winger Liel Abada thanks Celtic fans who stood by him during tough period

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 Mar 2024

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Liel Abada thanked all the Celtic fans who stood by him during a “very difficult” period after sealing his move to Major League Soccer.

The Israel international finalised a permanent transfer to Charlotte FC on Thursday night after his hugely-successful spell in Glasgow came to a premature end amid pressure in his homeland to move on in response to displays of support for the Palestinian people among Celtic supporters.

The winger made 112 appearances for Celtic after joining in the summer of 2021 – winning five major trophies – and netted his 29th and final goal against Aberdeen in the second game of this season.

A thigh injury suffered on international duty in September kept him out for the best part of four months but Abada did not return the same player amid huge pressure in his country to end his association with Celtic, which included public comments from Israel team-mates.

Banners among Celtic fans which read “Free Palestine” and “Victory to the resistance” on the day after the October 7 attacks in Israel sparked anger in Israel and criticism from former Hoops midfielder Nir Bitton.

Abada received a huge ovation when he returned from injury against Rangers on December 30, but it became clear to manager Brendan Rodgers that he could not focus on playing for Celtic.

The winger’s final match turned out to be a 2-1 win over Hibernian on February 7, when he went straight down the tunnel as his colleagues celebrated a last-gasp victory.

Abada, who signed a new four-year contract in early September, said his farewells on Instagram after what he described as two-and-a-half “incredible years”.

He wrote: “Where do I even begin? Leaving Celtic wasn’t in my plans, yet life’s unpredictable turns remind us that we’re not always in control.

“The past six months have been a personal challenge, yet the overwhelming support from the gaffer, coaches and board has been my rock. Their unwavering faith during these times won’t be forgotten but cherished forever.

“Reflecting on my journey here brings a smile to my face, the trophies lifted, goals celebrated, electric atmospheres and moments of pure bliss will forever be etched in my memory.

“To my team-mates and staff, thank you for pushing me to excel, not just as a player, but as a person. You’ve all played a pivotal role in shaping who I am today.

“A special shoutout to my family and my girlfriend, whose steadfast support and love have been my guiding light.

“Arriving in a new country at 19 was daunting, but Niro (Bitton) and his family welcomed me with open arms, making Scotland feel like home from day one. Their kindness made all the difference, on and off the pitch.

“To the incredible Israeli community in Glasgow, you’ve given me so much warmth and love. You hold a special place in my heart.

“And last but not least, thank you to all the Celtic fans. Recent times were very difficult for myself and my family but I want to say thank you to all the Celtic fans that stood by me, supported and respected me as a Celtic player and I hope that I have given you few moments to remember me by.

“It is now time to begin a new chapter on my journey in a new place and with new targets. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for everything.”

Celtic did not mention Abada’s departure on their official X – formerly Twitter – account but said on their website: “Everyone at Celtic thanks Liel for his great contribution to the club and we sincerely wish him the very best for the future.”

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