BOLI BOLINGOLI says that Celtic will be playing for their own pride against Cluj tonight, but the full-back has an added incentive to get a result in Romania.

Bolingoli’s cousin Jordan Lukaku plays for Group E rivals Lazio, who need Celtic to win to stand any chance of joining them in the last 32 of the competition, and Lukaku has already been sending messages to the left-back begging him to do all he can to help the Italians out.

“I got a message before we left Glasgow from him saying we’d better win the game because they need to go through,” Bolingoli said.

“For him he’s talking because he hasn’t played yet [in the Europa League]. He cannot play but he hopes he can have more minutes in the next round.

“I was like; ‘you do your job, I will do mine’.

“Every game we go into we go to win it. This game is the same. Even though Cluj need a point we want to go back with three points and to finish the Europa League campaign in a good way.

“Most of the time we speak after Europa League games about what happened. Otherwise we only talk about other things. We don’t talk much about football.”

Perhaps the decision not to talk about football too much comes from Lukaku’s side, with Bolingoli rubbing salt in his wounds after Celtic surprised Lazio by winning against them both in Glasgow and in Rome.

It wasn’t only the Italians that underestimated the Scottish side though according to Bolingoli, and he says they will now have earned the respect of their group rivals after coasting the section.

“[After] the first game he was saying we were lucky and the second game was coming so we’d see what happened then,” he said.

“The second we showed [them] again, so I was like; ‘what happened now?’ He couldn’t say anything! The messages stopped. I was like; ‘thank you, bye!’

“A lot of teams underestimated us, like Lazio, the last game against Rennes. They came with a B team and I was like; ‘we are Celtic, show us some more respect’.

“We showed we are a big team with quality players. We are first and I think if you see the whole campaign, we deserve to be first, and let’s hope we can continue until the end.”

The end for Celtic in the Europa League may well be at the final in Gdansk next May if Cluj coach Dan Petrescu is to be believed, as he tipped Neil Lennon’s side to go all the way in the competition yesterday.

Bolingoli isn’t about to argue with Petrescu’s assessment.

“When I came here, I said with this team, we can go very far,” he said.

“If we continue like this with the way we’re playing and the same mentality we can go very far and hopefully we can maybe even win the cup.”

Bolingoli is one of the Celtic players who is relishing the chance to play against Cluj, with a frustrating period on the sidelines with a hamstring injury culminating in the full-back having a watching brief against Rangers in Sunday’s Betfred Cup triumph over Rangers.

“I was really nervous on Sunday,” he said. “I don’t know why. It was a difficult game. It feels different when you’re on the bench or watching from upstairs.

“When you see the players playing you want to be out there. But it was a nice game and I’m very happy to have my first cup medal with Celtic.

“I was just happy to win the cup. After you forget everything. Just to win against Rangers, if you play or not you don’t think about it afterwards.

“I can only be proud to be a part of this team. Of course, you want to play, but it’s a final. When you win you forget everything.

“It’s important for me to get some minutes again after a few weeks injury.

“The game is going to be a nice one to give chances to other players who haven’t played and to show their qualities too.”