New Hearts goalkeeper Colin Doyle admits he is desperate to sample the famous Celtic Park atmosphere in a real game after lining up in Hoops captain Scott Brown’s testimonial.
Doyle started for the Republic of Ireland in May’s 2-2 draw in front of over 50,000 fans in a match to mark the midfielder’s 11 trophy-laden years at Parkhead.
And after signing a two-year deal with the Gorgie outfit on Thursday, the four-times capped shot-stopper is determined to make sure he is in possession of the gloves when the clashes against the Premiership heavyweights come around.
Speaking ahead of today’s Betfred Cup tie against Raith Rovers at New Bayview, Doyle, who made 88 appearances in two seasons at Bradford before departing the English side earlier this summer, said: “Ireland played Celtic in Scott Brown’s testimonial and it was the first time I had been to Celtic Park to play – I’m certainly looking forward to going back.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere, electric really because he has done so well for Celtic over the years.
“It felt like a testimonial game as the tempo was a bit down because they played the Scottish Cup final the day before, so they were probably still half-cut.
“I played about 60 minutes and it was a good experience.
“I’m excited about the prospect of going back to a ground like that for a proper league game.
“Playing in the Premiership, you’ve got big games here against Celtic, Rangers, Hibs, Aberdeen – it’s big teams, big crowds and it’s what I want to play in front of.
“I’ve played in some big games – I played against France, the world champions, this summer – and that’s something I want to do.”
Doyle, who has to dislodge Czech-stopper Zdenek Zlamal from the Hearts side, has picked up three more international caps since the turn of the year – eleven years after making his debut against Ecuador, and reckons performing on the big stage can help him catch Ireland boss Martin O’Neill’s attention.
He added: “When I moved to Bradford, I wanted to get back into the Irish set-up and, luckily enough, last season I managed to get three caps.
“Hopefully coming up here and playing in some more big games can help me get more caps this season.”