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Ambrose: 'I will never say no to football'

How best to describe Efe Ambrose?

Lennon and Ambrose help celebrate Celtic's Christmas Appeal raising more than £60,000 for good causes. Picture: SNS

Supporters would reach for every adjective from "outstanding" to "bombscare", sometimes in the course of describing his performance in a single match. The phrase which Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, tends to use is "low maintenance", in that the 25-year-old Nigeria internationalist defender is as reliable as a Swiss watch, a dedicated professional who is always fit and available

When all of this was put to Ambrose yesterday his face cracked into laughter: "It is by the grace of God they find someone like me! We are few!"

His manager is certainly right about one thing: Ambrose is very rarely unavailable. He made his debut in September last year and in the 78 games Celtic have played since then he has appeared in 68 of them. When Nigeria's World Cup qualifiers, Africa Cup of Nations campaign, Confederations Cup ties and friendlies are taken into account he has appeared in more than 80 games in 15 months.

"Football is what I love," said Ambrose. "When I wake up in the morning I just want to play. If the manager wants to give me a rest then that is his own opinion. But I will never say no to football. I just want to play every day."

He laughed again: "They got lucky to have somebody like me! I keep playing 365 days a year. I never get injured or tired, I just want to keep playing."

Not everyone is so fortunate. Arguably the most consistently impressive Celtic defender this season has been right-back Mikael Lustig. While Ambrose will doubtless soldier on, Lustig will miss the next three or four months after a double hip operation.

"I'll miss him," said Ambrose. "He is one person who had really solidified the defence. He has helped me a lot, communicated with me, told me how to play, to do this and that. We want to wish him a quick recovery."

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