IF Vasilis Barkas can become half the goalkeeper that his idol turned out to be, then Celtic will certainly have a bargain on their hands. Though he might give manager Neil Lennon the odd heart attack along the way if he adopts his style.

The Greek goalkeeper spoke yesterday upon his arrival in Glasgow of how he looks up to legendary Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, and with a history of dabbling at left-back and in midfield in training over the years, he hasn’t ruled out the odd dash from his area if he feels it is the appropriate course of action.

Barkas got to play against Neuer for AEK Athens two years ago in the Champions League group stages, an experience that made him doubly determined to strive for the standard set by his hero, if not exactly to ape the ‘sweeper keeper’ approach that is the German’s trademark.

Certainly, he does seem to have the confidence of Neuer, believing his arrival at Celtic already marks him out as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe. Now, he wants to prove that he should be spoken about in such company.

“Neuer is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, both with feet and with hands,” Barkas said.

“For a goalkeeper confidence is everything. It’s his job to give confidence to his teammates and the character he shows is crucial to the team.

“I don’t know yet if the coach will be happy with me running to the halfway line like Neuer, but if I save one goal doing it then why not?

“I always played as goalkeeper but as the years have passed I have liked to play outfield as in modern football goalkeepers need to be able to play.

“In training sessions, if I play outfield sometimes then it’s better for me when I need to play with my feet as goalkeeper. This is why I like to play outfield.

“It was special for me to play against [Neuer]. It was a dream actually and I managed to get his shirt.

“That’s what football is all about. When you see your idol up close and play against him.

“That was two of my best games, I made two good games against Bayern. After the game he said to me I did good and told me to keep going. When your idol speaks with you and says you did good you feel fantastic.

“And maybe I will meet him again playing in the Champions League with Celtic.

“When you are the best goalkeeper at Celtic you are automatically one of the best in Europe and in the world. It’s one of the biggest teams in the world so you become one of the biggest goalkeepers in my opinion.

“I feel ready to take the next step. I feel very good that my next step is to a bigger team and Celtic is a very good step to help me make my career even better and better and bigger.

“I want to stay here a long time, a lot of years, and to become the best goalkeeper.”

Such modest tasks like taking the place of Fraser Forster in the affections of the Celtic supporters should not be beyond him, then?

“Yes, but I can’t speak about that yet,” he said.

“If I play well, I think the fans will love me. If we win then I think I’ll have a good relationship with the fans.”

Barkas knows all about the last and only one of his countrymen to have played for Celtic in the past, a man revered as something of a Greek god already by sections of the support. Should the transfer of Barkas work out, then those Celtic fans may have yet another reason to laud a certain Georgios Samaras.

“I spoke with Samaras before I came to Celtic,” said Barkas.

“He just said ‘go, don’t even think about it.’ He told me how Celtic was a very big team and the fans loved the team so much and were crazy about the team. That made my decision easier.

“But I already knew Celtic were a very big team and club with great fans and a great stadium which has a good atmosphere.

“I think all players want to play for Celtic. But it was good to speak to Samaras. I was able to speak to him because one of my good friends plays for OFI, where Samaras is Sporting Director.

“Before me, he is the only Greek player to play for Celtic, so I hope to have the same career here that he did because I know he was successful. I want to become a big player here like he was.

“I remember he played in the last 16 of the Champions League with Celtic and I’m ready to do the same. I want to help take Celtic as far as possible in the Champions League.”