THE Downward Facing Dog and the Mountain Pose were Benjamin Siegrist’s introduction to professional goalkeeping as former American internationalist Brad Friedel converted him to the benefits of daily yoga.

Siegrist’s big stretch now is all about making himself number one at Celtic Park. 

The 30-year-old Swiss goalkeeper signed a four-year deal with Ange Postecoglou’s side this week with the constant noise that surrounds Celtic – on matchday or otherwise - unlikely to be conducive to meditative sessions.

“The first guy I met was Brad Friedel and what a gentleman he was,” said Siegrist of his time at Aston Villa. “He taught me how to do yoga which was interesting. Loads of goalkeeping stretching is yoga poses anyway but he really got me into it. I don’t do it as much now but it is part of the training routine.  

“It was not a suggestion. It was, ‘we are doing yoga!’ It was more that it was a new thing and I was willing to try it. If Brad Friedel does it then it is definitely good enough for me and other keepers have kept it going. Jota does it. It is good exercise but it is also very supportive of your training regimen. It definitely was not a suggestion. 

“Yoga is more of a goalkeeping thing I think because we tend to be a little bit bigger. Our job needs us to be flexible but generate forces at the same time. I have really enjoyed doing it, I have not really been doing it in the sense of meditation. I like to read a lot of books on mental health, on other athletes on how they cope with stuff. I would with a mental coach who is sports psychologist. Those are all things that can help for sure.”

There is a suggestion that Siegrist could have headed to Ibrox with Rangers also linked with his services in recent months. He was unwilling to divulge any details but it is safe to say that there were other options available to him. Some of those would have come with first-team gloves at the ready but the keeper’s preference was to embrace a journey that he believes will enable him to become a better player. 

The journey that got him to Celtic in the first place will have helped him on that front. A leg break as a young goalkeeper at Aston Villa as his contract was coming to an end is just one of various challenges that he has had to contest. 

“It is part of how I got here and what made me who I am.” He said. “A football journey is never going to be straight, it is always going to have ups and downs. I would not change it for the world. It has led me to here so I must have done some things right. I started off playing in Switzerland and I left home early to go to England and had a few loans there. I felt the right decision was to go back to Switzerland and play there for Vaduz who are in Lichtenstein but who play in the Swiss league.  

“I had my first bit of international football there as well as Europa League qualifiers and then the opportunity to join Dundee United came along and I wanted to do it. I wanted to make a go of it and make the number one spot my own. I had four successful years there where we had promotion and securing European football last season and now I am at the best club in Scotland.   

“I had an old head at Lichtenstein who was also the national team keeper who I managed to be number one ahead of him which was the first important step in my career and then when I went to Dundee United I didn’t play a lot in the beginning. I will always compete to the max and make sure I play to my potential and I did not give up and eventually got that number one spot.  

“I just felt that I needed to make a name for myself somewhere else. It was time for me to play in the first-team. I was looking to improve and looking for a restart and the chance came to join Dundee United and you know the rest.”  

The allure of Celtic, the possibility of Champions League football and 60,000 supporters to play in front of – if he gets the gloves off of Joe Hart – made the move from Dundee United where he was out of contract a fairly straightforward switch. 

“Celtic needs no introduction. It doesn’t matter which corner of the world you are, people know about Celtic,” he said. “It was a great impression playing here for the first time. It was a great impression competing, seeing the fanbase. That is exciting because I am part of it now but I think a player does not choose Celtic, I think Celtic chooses them.”