Erik Sviatchenko still vividly remembers the day Scott Brown charged him £ 600 to use the bathroom. Perhaps a little too strongly.
The scene was the Celtic team hotel in an industrial estate just outside Glasgow when nature came calling the Great Danish Defender. His captain too. The “good minister” of the club.
“Normally we would go for a walk first, but I misunderstood,” Svyatchenko explains of the mitigation.
“I was there for a few minutes, then thought we were going to have our pre-game meal, but they had gone for a walk first. I remember Kris Ajer and Stuart Armstrong doing that “fast, fast, fast”.
“I knew Scott Brown saw me arrive late and then obviously there was a fine. I thought it was a lot higher than it was then when I told her, ‘okay I know I was late I’ll pay £. 600 ‘, he said immediately,’ yeah, OK, let’s do that ‘.
“Six months later I realized the fine was only £ 150. “
The punishment for his effervescence is justified by Svyatchenko. He laughs, claiming that the money went to a “great cause”. A follow-up question on charitable giving is quickly corrected to indicate that he means a cat for team night.
This was just one of many stories the 29-year-old holds up close as he watches from afar as Celtic’s 10-in-a-row juggernaut stammers before reaching his final destination.
The center-half, who now plays for Midtjylland, spent two years in Glasgow from 2016, first brought in by Ronny Deila, to play a role in the invincible swashbuckling season under his successor Brendan Rodgers.
It was a hedonistic and dominant campaign for all parties involved and now seems there is life amid a Rangers title-induced malaise.
“I remember every year we were talking about the next title, the next one or the next one,” he told BBC Scotland. “People couldn’t even ask the question. Is it possible? Or is it even possible that we don’t? Because there was no competitor. ”
“Suddenly the Rangers really, really took a few steps and improved and we saw that firsthand with Midtjylland as well, when we played the Rangers in the European play-offs. [losing 7-3 over two legs in 2019 Europa League qualifier].
“It’s so difficult to continue and for all the players, all the staff to do the same thing every day, which has been done for so many years. And then suddenly you’ve got a team that has had a really, really good run of games, and they’re developing pretty quickly.
“It may be a coincidence and it turns out to be in the worst timing. “
“He asked me to be captain … I hope he gets the job”
It is only in the midst of a haze of defensive burning that you might be able to see that Svyatchenko’s final moments at Celtic may have been frowned upon.
Ajer’s rise, the command of a young Dedryck Boyata and the imposing figure of Jozo Simunovic meant playing time was hard to come by for the Denmark international, who was loaned to Midtjylland halfway through the game. second season of Rodgers.
Back then, on the outskirts, one wonders what Celtic would have given him in a myriad of suspicious defensive moments this season.
Celtic’s future is as uncertain as it has been this century. At best, a sustained era of domination has been temporarily suspended. At worst? A citywide new one has been sworn in, with a drastic overhaul on and off the pitch necessary for Parkhead to keep it from escalating.
Yet Svyatchenko believes the answer to his former coach’s riddle is to look them in the face.
“I hope John Kennedy gets his chance,” he said of the current Celtic goalkeeper. “We had a very close relationship. He was always there to ask you how you felt but also for football, always trying to improve yourself.
“He was also the one who came to me and said, ‘Erik, we need someone to wear the captain’s armband’ because Scott Brown was injured. He said to me, ‘I think you can do it for us,’ and I was a captain. the team once, of which I am proud.
“He has so much experience on the coaching side even though he was not the main man, but he knows a lot about football also on a mental level, because he tries with his own body to play at the most. high level and with the club too. I have nothing but good, positive things to say about him. ”
Chat with Andy Robertson and buy paintings for Stuart Armstrong
Now settled in his homeland, memories of Scotland are never too far away for Sviatchenko, whose wife Anne also played for Celtic during their time in Glasgow.
A Champions League draw with Liverpool last year led to a discussion with Scotland captain Andy Robertson about the World Cup qualifying campaign, with their two respective nations in the same squad. It is a level that the man with the five caps still aspires to reach.
But it is his love of the arts that helps him bond him to those he grew up with at Celtic, especially the Scottish and Southampton midfielder Armstrong.
When he first arrived in Scotland in 2016, it was clear that Svyatchenko wasn’t quite cut off from the same things your average Nandos and PlayStation footballer was. His opening press conference drifted off to talk about his fashion blog, his passion for photography or the work of his Ukrainian artist father.
It was agreed by all present at the time that these were prosecutions that were unlikely to touch the sensitive rope of the Minister of Fines.
“My good friend Stuart Armstrong, who I still talk to often, actually bought my dad a painting. So a little introduction to this world was successful, ”he added.
“I also sent a lot of work to Stuart and visited him in his house in Edinburgh, and I could see that he had hung the artwork. A little inspiration is always good. “
As long as it doesn’t cost you £ 600.