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Deila sacrifices his family life to be with Celtic

SCENES from a new life:

Ronny Deila today faces his first match at Celtic Park since he took over as the club's manager in June
Ronny Deila today faces his first match at Celtic Park since he took over as the club's manager in June

The immigrant is far from home. He has spent the night dining in a strange land. He cannot hail a cab so he walks into the nearest pub.

"I now realise I shouldn't do that," says Celtic manager Ronny Deila. In the spring, he would have been anonymous in Glasgow. In the summer, he was mobbed.

"Everyone was very polite but it was too much. People wanted to talk to me about Celtic and have their picture taken with me, things like that. It was okay, you get used to it."

Scene from a life already past: Deila meets his 14-year-old twin daughters, Thale and Live, in their home in Norway. He wants to talk to them about ending one professional existence and opening the door to another. The conclusion is painful.

"My family haven't come. I am single now and my two kids wanted to stay in Norway," he says. "They'll visit me when they have a vacation and I'll go see them whenever there is an international break. It's been the hardest thing. Very hard.

"When you do this you sacrifice everything. They wanted me to do this, though, and I couldn't say no. They knew I'd regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't come here.

"Ask any big manager if they've made sacrifices and they will all say yes. This is not a job, it's a lifestyle. It's 24 hours a day, thinking all the time. There are so many decisions to make that it has to be this way.

"With my kids, I asked them what they thought about me coming here. I asked them if it was okay with them. They saw in my face, though, that they couldn't say no."

Three years managing Brodd and six years at Stromsgodset gave Deila some satisfaction and increased his desire to work at a big club. This has led him to Celtic, to Champions League qualifiers, to massed press conferences, to mobbed pubs, to decisions and comments and speculation… and so much more.

Scene from a private life: Deila jogs through Glasgow trying to find a respite from the unrelenting demands of a job he loves but which stretches him to the limit. There is the odd game of golf, a meal with friends and, of course, the solitary pub visit. There has also been heavy defeat in the Champions League qualifiers, pressure to sign players, the mundane but draining tasks of adapting to a new home, new employees, a new language.

"There have been some tough weeks but you feel you are living and learning. You can sit in automatic mode and do everything in remote control. Now, however, I have to push myself to new limits.That's why I came. I know I can cope with it. It's hard but everything has been okay."

Deila is intelligent, imaginative in his language, so he finds colourful phrases to describe what he must find to retain a stability.

"I need to get a routine and then find holes to relax in. I don't want to find I'm just spinning around in the washing machine. You have to come out of it sometimes to reflect.

"If you are a leader you need to reflect. You need time by yourself to see the next step, and you have to always been a step ahead. It's been hard in the beginning but over time it will become easier."

The 38-year-old Norwegian is open and articulate but there is also a steeliness about his approach. He knows leadership comes with responsibilities. He makes a point of leaving players in no doubt about what he wants. James Forrest must become quicker, the ball must be used in combinations in wide areas, Leigh Griffiths must learn to play as one of a team not just as an excellent ball striker, the ethos must one of unrelenting pressure on opponents.

He looks forward to his first match as a manager at Celtic Park today with undisguised relish.

"We will attack. I have nothing to hide," he said when asked if a counter-attacking Dundee United side might give cause for an element of caution. This romantic vision is articulated in a tone that is strong and that, ever so politely, ever so firmly, brooks no argument.

"At home, Celtic must go out and attack. When you meet the best teams like Barcelona, I understand you have to defend. But when we play in the league, every time we go out on to the pitch we will play to entertain, and you entertain when you try to attack.

"We have better players than the other teams, so at Celtic Park we don't just stay back. If you do that then there is something wrong; you are afraid to lose. I am not afraid to lose. I would rather lose than play bad football."

This idealism was only heightened by his experience of watching Celtic play Barcelona in the Champions League and by a contemplative walk around the stadium this week. It was the first time he had stepped on to the Parkhead pitch since his unveiling as manager in June and he admitted he pictured scenes of glory.

This afternoon Fergus McCann, the saviour of Celtic, will unveil the SPFL Premiership flag. Deila is the new managerial standard bearer. He marches towards battle with a vision of perfection guiding every step.

"I said many times it's my dream to play fantastic football against good teams in a full stadium," he says. "Money is nothing compared to that. Trophies are nothing compared to that. It's the ultimate experience and it's what I have in my mind."

It is a captivating, intoxicating scenario. It has, though, to include the substance of titles and cups to allow Deila to continue chasing the dream in Glasgow. The idealism is inspiring. Ultimately, though, Deila will be judged on whether he can produce genuine scenes of glory; of Celtic captains lifting trophies.

That is the reality.

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