ROBERTO Martinez claimed last night that Dedryck Boyata is one of the most unselfish football players he has ever worked with. The 27-year-old Belgium international defender remained at Parkhead through a fraught transfer window, despite a difference of opinion with his club boss Brendan Rodgers as to whether he was fit to play the club’s vital Champions League qualifying ties against AEK.

Subsequently welcomed back into the fray by his manager and the senior players, Boyata has sailed through recent matches against Suduva and Rangers and will be hoping for a similarly simple night at Hampden on Friday. Martinez, whose faith in the player after a difficult start to his time at Parkhead was rewarded with a man-of-the-match display for his country against Panama as Belgium went on to finish third in the World Cup, feels he should be regarded as a role model to young players. From being unable to get a regular first team game in Scottish football, Boyata no longer looks out of place amongst some of world football’s elite players.

“I think Dedryck has been a really good example of how to react towards adversity,” Martinez told Herald Sport. “When he arrived at Celtic, he probably found it quite difficult to react to what is needed, and just to get a starting position in the team – it wasn’t an easy environment for him. But it was his reaction that alerted me to him.

“Given such a challenge it would have been easy to become hyper critical and blame people around him for the reason he wasn’t playing,” said Martinez. “But that wasn’t the case. He always believed he could play for Celtic and obviously he has grown into a very, very impressive player. He is very powerful in the air, really good in the challenges, perfect for modern football as he is an out and out defender who can also play. He has got a capacity for listening to what is expected from him, and when you get that you can always improve. That is what attracted us - from the first time he arrived with the squad, with his behaviour, he can always adapt to what his team-mates need.

“This all came together in a man of the match performance for me against Panama in the World Cup opening game,” Martinez added. “It is a really nice example of a young player overcoming adversity to become one of the best peformers for the national team. It has been really nice to see him develop into the player he is now.”

Whether he has a long-term future at Parkhead beyond this summer remains to be seen, but with equilibrium returned, his international prospects remain bright in a Belgian defensive corps featuring Vincent Kompany, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. “We need to remember this is not a nice situation for anyone,” said Martinez. “It is not a nice situation for Dedryck, it is not a nice situation for Celtic, it is not a nice situation for the manager [Brendan Rodgers]. But this is what happens in the modern game. The windows are there for people to see the opportunities, for clubs to try to get good value. What is important that once the window closes everyone quickly gets back to normality, back to the day-to-day. Dedryck I am sure wants to play football with a supportive team who know he is going to be there until the end of the season.

“I have experienced this for many, many years,” he added. “Especially in the Premier league, the windows are frantic, these things are the reality of the modern game. Any player should be able to have a period of thinking about what their next move is, depending on contracts and possible opportunities, now at the end of the window everything will go back to calm. Dedryck Boyata has been a very loyal footballer to Celtic and a very good player for the club – that is the memory which needs to be kept. And there are not many players who are as unselfish on the pitch as he is to deliver what the manager wants.”