Hladky aims for a lesson from ‘legend’
VACLAV HLADKY has carved a reputation as one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the top flight but tonight he wants to learn from a ‘legend’.
The 28-year-old Czech watched in awe as Fraser Forster reinforced his credentials with a string of saves in last week’s Europa League Group E win over Lazio.
Back at Celtic on loan from Southampton, the Englishman has expressed his desire to make the move permanent and force his way back into international reckoning.
Such a scenario is warmly welcomed by Hladky, who will keep an eye on his opposite number — despite expecting to be the busier of the two this evening.
‘Fraser is a fantastic goalkeeper. I knew him years ago when he played at Celtic and it’s a big deal for them to have him,’ said Hladky.
‘I want to learn from him as he’s a legend. He is a bit different from me as he has a different style. There are a lot of things I can learn from him.’
Celtic are in a rich run of goalscoring form with four goals in a first-half destruction of Aberdeen on Sunday just the most recent example of their ruthless streak.
Hladky expects more of the same tonight but is determined to offer a more rigid barrier to repel the champions’ advances.
‘I’m going to be a busy man but that suits me,’ he said. ‘I’m looking forward to it.
‘For everyone at St Mirren, it’s a big game. We know it’s difficult to play there because the level of the players at Celtic is so high.
‘We’re ready to accept the challenge and try to do what we can do best.
‘I watched Celtic against Aberdeen and, at half-time, it was enough as it was so crazy. Celtic were so, so good and the result speaks for itself.
‘When I was watching it, I knew Wednesday would be a busy time for me but that’s always the case against Celtic.’
Any suggestion of nerves due to Celtic’s formidable form going into the match are firmly batted away by the Czech keeper.
‘I’m not nervous, why should I be?’ he asked. ‘It’s only football and these games are about your performance and to do the best you can. So I’m not nervous.
‘Celtic is a bit different from a normal league game. It’s a bigger stadium and one of the nicer stadiums in Scotland.
‘It’s a great time for me and for the club as well, so we are only looking forward to it.
‘Everyone expects Celtic to win by five or six goals, so for us it’s just about doing our work the best we can. Then we can hope to get a good result.’
Looking to the future, Hladky believes he can raise the level of his game further.
A number of clubs, including Azerbaijani champions Qarabag, were interested in the Czech over the summer and Saints manager Jim Goodwin revealed yesterday a second contract offer is likely to be offered as they fight to keep him in Paisley.
‘It’s about hard work every day, it’s as simple as that and to play well match to match,’ said Hladky.
‘I need to work without mistakes and to take my level higher and higher.
‘I have that confidence, everyone can see it’s getting better and better as I now have lots of games behind me. Everyone feels more confident the more they play.’