Matt O’Riley may not be young, wild and free anymore.

However, it’s part of his mentality when playing the game that keeps him sane.

Playing at a big club like Celtic presents its own pressures. But players know what they’re signing up for when the Scottish champions come calling. Aside from playing in Glasgow, as an adult, naturally, the pressures of life get tougher.

That’s why the new full Denmark international likes to remain young in his mind – often reminding himself of what it used to be like growing up as a teenager, playing football in parks. It may sound a bit daft, but if his form this season keeps up, with seven goals and seven assists to date ahead of tonight’s match against Hibernian, then whatever works for O’Riley should be embraced.

Asked about his stunning finish against St Johnstone, the attacking midfielder explained: “I remember a volley with my right foot against Reading for Fulham under 14s or 15s. That’s the other one I remember. 

“Other than that it’s hard. It’s such a losing time ago it’s hard to really think about it. In terms of professional football, Sunday was the nicest with my right. 

“Back then there were fewer fans. On Sunday there was slightly more pressure. People tend to put more pressure on you as you get older in life, for some reason. That’s just how it goes. 

“I think when you are a kid of 14 or 15, you play very freely. That’s how I’m trying to play at the moment – to bring that side of young, childish playfulness into my game.  Maybe last season I wouldn’t have even thought to swing my right foot at that. Now it’s just a case of being more free on the pitch which is nice. 

“It’s nice that the manager trusts me. I think that’s quite important. I’m obviously playing a lot of football at the moment which is really nice. 

“My body is in a good place as a result of the momentum of the amount of games I’m playing. 

“I think naturally when I’m on the pitch, because of the consistency of games, I’m also able to maybe risk even more at the moment which is what I’m trying to do.

“I think there’s a lot of deep work, to be honest, that goes on with myself mainly off the pitch. 

“Speaking through things, just sitting by myself and processing everything, that takes a lot of time and practice to be able to actually get to the stage where I’m a little bit more carefree on the pitch about what’s happening. 

“Of course, I go into every game wanting to win but I feel like when I’m on the pitch, all I’m thinking about is just winning in the game, that’s just another thought or distraction in my head. So I try to go in as open-minded as possible. As a result, usually, you’ve got a better chance of winning.

“I was probably overthinking things more up until I was 17, 18, 19 years old. I think it was all done with good intentions, it was about standards and hard work, trying to get better from a young age.

“I was always dreaming from a young age. It’s not that the dreams have stopped but it’s about taking things as they come rather than overthinking things that are out of my control.”

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O’Riley has candidly opened up about speaking to his life coach and friend Dish from India previously. It’s also methods such as meditation that have helped him cope with the mental side of the game.

He’s been at Celtic for nearly two years now. Hard to believe how quickly that time has flown by. And he insists he will make a continuous effort to help any of the club’s newer players if they’re struggling to cope.

“Thoughts that are negative, positive… doubts, whatever, are all inevitable for all of us,” he said. “I feel like I’m improving in the sense that I’m now recognising that they are just thoughts. I’m not associating myself with them and not believing them or attaching myself to them when I’m on the pitch in the sense that if I’ve just made a bad pass, at the moment I feel like I’m quite able to let it go quite quickly. 

“I feel that’s come as a result of a lot of practice with meditation, speaking with my friend, life coach in India. A lot of stuff like this I’ve been doing pretty relentlessly for the last couple of years now. So it’s not like it’s been an easy process. 

“There have been times where I’ve found it really tough. At the same time now, if we do lose a game or if I do not have the best game, I feel like I’m able to process it a little bit better, a little bit more logically than I was before, probably a bit less emotionally as well. 

“I just kind of see it from that perspective. I think that’s what’s helping me with the consistency side of things at the moment. Because I’m kind of letting go of the last game and going into each game more open. 

“The more experience you have, both good and bad, you naturally learn how to process things just going forward. 

“I’m lucky in that I’ve played a lot of games for Celtic at quite a young age so naturally I’ve had those high-pressure situations. Hopefully, I’ll be able to adapt and learn. 

“If you really reflect on what’s happened, then you can process it better as well rather than just going through it without actually thinking what’s happened along the way. It’s what I’m trying to do.”