THE sun is shining on an unseasonably balmy autumnal afternoon as Stan Valckx watches his VVV-Venlo players train. The former Dutch international takes my call and laments that the only thing missing is an ice cold beer. Well, perhaps not the only thing, with one rather notable cloud in his sky.

Valckx was the Technical Director who, a little under two years ago, saw something in a raw Greek striker by the name of Giorgos Giakoumakis, who at the time was plodding his way through a somewhat uninspiring loan spell at Polish side Gornik Zabrze from parent club AEK Athens.

Valckx persuaded him to take a leap of faith by joining his Eredivisie minnows, and while Venlo were ultimately relegated, no one – not even Valckx - could have foreseen the impact Giakoumakis would have in The Netherlands, and the impact the move would have on him.

Giakoumakis exploded out of the blocks for his new club and never looked back, bagging an incredible 26 goals to top the Eredevisie scoring charts, catching the eye of bigger clubs all across Europe in the process and ultimately winning a move to Celtic.

Due to a lack of match fitness upon arrival, and an injury picked up in the warm-up before what was supposed to be his debut against Raith Rovers in the League Cup, Celtic supporters have so far been denied the opportunity to see what the forward can offer, save for a brief cameo at the end of the Europa League thumping at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen.

But as Valckx opines that he himself would fit in quite nicely in Glasgow due to his fondness for knocking back a few cold ones, he can only surmise that given his qualities as a player, Giakoumakis will eventually take to the city and Scottish football too. He lets out a sigh as he considers the 30 goals Giakoumakis would surely score for Venlo this season in the Eerste Divisie, and wonders how many he will bag for Celtic instead.

“I don’t think it is unrealistic to say that between now and the end of the season he can score between 15 and 20 goals in Scotland,” Valckx predicts boldly. “That should be realistic.”

It is some turnaround to his modest expectations for Giakoumakis when he first went to see him play, and to deliver his sales pitch on behalf of Venlo.

“Before I went to Poland to watch him in the flesh I had seen a few of his games on Wyscout, and what I saw that he never gives up,” he said. “He keeps running, he keeps fighting.

“He does very well in the box, he doesn’t need that many chances, but I didn’t see that immediately in the game in Poland. What was clear was his character.

“Just before half time he got an elbow in his face, and I saw the blood coming out of his head. I thought that there was no way he would be out for the second half, and now I wouldn’t be able to meet him the day after, because we had made an appointment the day after the game. I didn’t think he would show up, but he did.

“We hoped we would get what I had saw in that game, but nobody at all expected the volume of goals he scored. He didn’t have a very good track record in Greece, but he was still very young.

“He had a loan period at Platanias [in Greece] and I think he scored eight or nine goals, and for a young player that’s not that bad.

“At a small club like Venlo in the Eredivisie, a striker needs to defend maybe even more than he attacks, so that he scored that number of goals is really an unbelievable story.

“He made headlines all over the world.”

That he did, but there was a degree of scepticism along with the acclaim given the propensity for the Eredivisie to throw up such anomalies. It is a league where even in the smallest teams, there will be chances for the forwards. Was the transformation in Giakoumakis a product of his new environment?

“If you look at the Greek league, it’s very defensive football, and the Polish league is also very defensive and very physical,” conceded Valckx.

“The Dutch league is of course a paradise then for young attackers and wingers, it’s a different world almost.

“He didn’t get that many chances in the Greek and Polish league, while in Holland, even with a small club you will get your chances.

“From day one he produced, he delivered. It’s not only about his quality though, it’s what league you are in too. That’s very important for young players.

“If they can choose between a few leagues where they can play, they have to think about where is best for their development.

“With Giakoumakis, he took a good decision by coming to the Dutch league. You can’t make money in the Dutch league, especially at small clubs like Venlo, so he sacrificed some money to make a big step in his development.”

That doesn’t explain how he came to outscore Donyell Malen though, the forward whose 19 goals for PSV Eindhoven won him a move to Borussia Dortmund in the summer.

Valckx is convinced that it his talent and mentality that will surely translate into further success in the Scottish Premiership.

“Celtic is a big club of course in an interesting league,” he said. “It’s a physical league, but normally I would expect him to be in the box more than he was with Venlo. We’re a small club and we have to defend more.

“He scored from all sorts of angles, with his left foot, right foot, bicycle kicks, quite a lot of headers. He had a real diversity in the ways he was able to finish. In the box, he is very good, very effective.

“In Holland, the central defenders are not that big or tall normally, but I know that in the Scottish league almost every club has two tall, strong central defenders. So, that will be a different challenge for him, but I think he has developed as a player and will be able to deal with that.

“The way Celtic play with wingers is also how we played, so he needs those wide players to deliver crosses so that he can score goals. The style of play should fit him really well.

“He is stable in his head. He knows what he wants and he knows how to achieve it. It sometimes takes some time to strike up an understanding between players, but he adapted to the style of football here really quickly.

“He may need a bit of time to adapt, but I have no doubt he will get there.”