Mikael Lustig signs for KAA Gent after Celtic exit

Swedish defender Mikael Lustig has signed a three year deal with Belgian side KAA Gent after leaving Celtic at the end of last season.

The 32-year-old spent eight seasons at Celtic, amassing an amazing 16 trophies during his time with the Scottish champions, but despite a one year deal being offered to the Swedish international he announced his departure from the club.

Now his transfer to Gent has been officially confirmed on a three year deal, the same length of deal that he was looking for to extend his Celtic stay.

Gent sporting director Peter Verbeke, speaking on the official Gent website, said: "Although Mikael is already 32, he has played more than 40 games for Celtic in recent seasons.

"In addition, he is still a fixture with the Swedish national team. More importantly, he was able to convince us of his enormous drive to fully go for a new project after eight consecutive titles with Celtic.

"Mikael has the winner's mentality and leadership qualities that our team, and certainly our youngsters, need."

Manager Neil Lennon paid tribute to the full back, saying: “I was delighted to bring Mika to Celtic and he has been phenomenal for me and the club. Mika has chosen to move elsewhere, but that is absolutely his right, these things happen, but it will not in any way take away from what he has achieved at Celtic.

“I wish Mika nothing but success for the future, he has been a brilliant servant to the club and has made a massive contribution to everything we have achieved across so many years. It has been a privilege to work with Mika. A top international player, he always gave everything for the team, he gave his heart and soul to every performance and I loved having him on my side.

“I am sure he will go on and continue to enjoy a really successful career, and myself and everyone at the club wish Mika and his family nothing but success for the future.”

Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell added: “Mika has been a huge part of Celtic over so many years and I am sure all our fans, as well as thanking him, will wish him well in everything he does in the future.

“His appearances and trophy count at Celtic and the number of international caps he has achieved, demonstrate exactly the level of player Mika has been consistently over a long period of time.

“For Celtic he has been a real force, a highly-talented player who always fought for our cause. He has been crucial to so much of what we have achieved as a club.

“Everyone at the club sends their best wishes to both Mika and his family and we hope they enjoy a very successful future.

“As well as making a huge impression on the club over so many years since he joined, Mika leaves Celtic as a treble treble champion, something he should always be immensely proud of. We thank Mika for everything.”

Taking to his official Instagram page, Lustig in an emotional post, said: “I had no idea how much this club and everything that comes with it would mean to me when I signed 7.5 years ago.

“It’s time for me and my family to move on, start a new chapter in life. To make a post on Instagram isn’t enough to express my feelings and thoughts about the situation. I wish I would’ve had the chance to get a proper goodbye.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone I’ve had the honour to meet and work with at Celtic, all the players and staff.

“The memories will stay with me forever. Thank you to all of you that made Glasgow feel like home for me and my family for so many years.

“I will never forget your support. Hopefully I’ll see you all soon. I’ll definitely be back for the 10 in a row party!”

Lustig was signed by Neil Lennon in January 2012 on a Bosman from Norwegian side Rosenborg. He went on to play 274 times for Celtic scoring 21 times.

The 75 times capped international amassed eight Premiership titles, four Scottish Cups and four League Cups during his seven and a half years with Celtic.

There are calls from Celtic fans to invite Mikael Lustig, his wife and kids to unfurl the Championship flag before the St.Johnstone game on the 3rd August - such a move would definitely get our vote as it would give everyone the perfect moment to say thank you and goodbye to Mika. Let’s make it happen Celtic!