NEW Celtic signing Wakaso Mubarak has revealed he is inspired to succeed in football by the memory of his late baby son.
The winger suffered an unbearable personal tragedy in January when his four-month-old boy, Wakaso Mubarak Jnr, passed away. He fell ill and was treated in hospital and released, only to suffer a relapse. As Wakaso tried to get him back to hospital he realised his son had died during the journey.
Wakaso may make his Celtic debut at Dundee in the SPFL Premiership on Sunday having agreed to join from Rubin Kazan on a season-long loan. He said his own mental strength, and the support of his Ghanaian international team-mates, had allowed him to come to terms with his boy's death and carry on in football.
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"I am a strong guy. To lose someone who means a lot to your life, it definitely brings your spirit down. But right now I am okay," he said. "Anything can happen in life, so anything that happens you need to accept and keep on going. My son does inspire me. It makes me work harder and harder to be the very best I can be, for him. I really, really appreciated the support I got from the other players because sometimes it is not easy to get love from other people."
Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Asamoah Gyan and others had offered their support at the time and had also encouraged him to make the move to Celtic, he said. "I have been in touch with those players often, sometimes every day. I really took advice from some of them to be here. They told me Celtic is a great team with a fantastic history, that I can make it big here."
The 24-year-old promised he would bring Celtic "glory and victory". After beginning his career in Ghana he played for Elche, Villareal and Espanyol in Spain before moving to Rubin Kazan a year ago. The Russian Premier League club had not suited him, he said, and he was now eager to get his career going again at Parkhead. He appeared as a late substitute for Ghana in their World Cup games against Germany and Portugal.
Black footballers have been regular victims of racism in Russia. Wakaso would not comment on whether that had been an issue for him at Rubin Kazan - "I can't talk about the racism" - but he said: "For me it was difficult. The weather in Russia and the people, the language, it was difficult for me. The football and my off-field life wasn't bad [in Russia] but each and every place has its differences. It wasn't bad, but it also didn't go as I would've wanted. That's why I decided to switch.
"I am very happy to be here. I will bring glory and victory to Celtic. I wanted Celtic to be in the Champions League but unfortunately they couldn't make it. But that is part of the game. We have the Europa League to face and that is like the Champions League.
"I am a hard worker. I always want to win and I always want to win as a team. I will work hard here too to try and make the team successful. I prefer to play as a winger. I am not really a goalscorer, although I do sometimes get a goal, but I like to create. I play on the left or the right. I am quick. It is my ambition to excite the Celtic fans. I want to make it big here and help Celtic be very successful."
Wakaso has had discipline problems during his career, picking up red and yellow cards, but he insisted that Celtic supporters need not worry about him having issues in Scotland. "I am a fighter on the field. That's why I get some cards. Sometimes I am quick-tempered. That is part of it," he added.
"Right now, though, I am okay. I think I am improving. I think I am learning to avoid trouble."
If the Celtic move goes as he expects it to he will not return to Russian football. "I am here on loan for one season but in my mind it won't be that. I know I will make it big and stay with Celtic for a long time."