MANY Celtic supporters have long suspected that opposition players raise their game when they face their team, and new arrival Ben Siegrist has confirmed that – at least for him – coming up against Celtic brought out that little something extra.

That fact will ring true for Celtic fans, who had built up something of a grudging respect for the keeper as he consistently turned in outstanding displays to defy them when representing for Dundee United.

The 30-year-old says he is ready to push himself to even greater heights now that he has joined Ange Postecoglou’s squad, but he is still rather pinching himself that the stadium where he used to stand and marvel at his surroundings has now become his home.

There is one memory in particular that stands out from last season, when his disappointment at losing a late goal to Liel Abada at Celtic Park was mixed with a feeling that he would love to be on the other side of such special moments. And now he has his chance.

When asked if playing at Celtic Park in his United days did indeed bring the best out in him, Siegrist said: “Yeah. I mean, have you seen the stadium? It’s pretty special.

“I remember losing here in the second-to-last minute and the lights were going on, the crowd were going crazy. I was gutted, I was really gutted, but I looked up and I went ‘This is pretty special here’.

“It’s just exciting for me to be here, and I want to be part of it, be part of how the manager wants to take the club forward.

“Working here with the goalkeepers’ union, and working with the best players, it’s going to be really exciting.”

It might be reasonable to assume that his excitement at joining Celtic might be tempered at least a little by the knowledge that he will be arriving at the club very much as second choice behind current number one Joe Hart, particularly when he had options at other clubs where he would almost certainly be the man in possession of the gloves.

Thanks to a phone call with manager Ange Postecoglou though, the Swiss saw the bigger picture, and with a four year deal signed and sealed he has plenty of time to make the impression he thinks he is capable of at Celtic.

“Ultimately, it was down the manager, it was down to his vision,” he said.

“I could go to another team and play another 100 or 150 games or I could go somewhere I feel like it’s going to improve me the most.

“That’s what it came down to. My willingness to improve, to better myself and measure myself day in, day out against the best players Scotland has to offer. That was the fantastic opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.

“It’s all about competition in his vision. I know there are no guarantees. There were no guarantees when I first came to Scotland four years ago. All I look forward to is the competition. It’s not a competition against somebody, it’s a competition with somebody. I look forward to competing with Joe, with Scott (Bain), and working with the manager.

“I know the standing [Joe Hart] has here. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper and a good person, from the little chats I’ve had with him. I’m buzzing to be in the team with him, honestly. It’s going to be really good.

“You know what the manager stands for. ‘We don’t stop’. That’s something that really excited me. When I had that phonecall with the manager, he told me his vision and what’s going to be happening in the future here.

“This isn’t just a short term see-how-it-goes project, this is a long term thing with the manager and how he wants us to play.”

In practice though, the new expectations that Postecoglou will place upon Siegrist may provide something of a culture shock, just as they did to Hart in the first few weeks after his arrival at Celtic last summer.

Siegrist is confident that he has the skillset though to handle the added responsibility with the ball at his feet that comes from playing in the manager’s system.

“The fact that I’m probably going to have to learn a different style of playing excites me because I could have just carried on with my career and played another 200 games the same way as I always have,” he said.

“But I don’t think I would have improved as much as I will do by coming here and trying to learn the Celtic way.

“It’s not really risky because you don’t just turn up on a Saturday and it happens. You obviously practise it every day on the training ground.

“Will it take some time to adjust? Of course. But I don’t look at it as being that risky - I won’t be playing square passes in the six yard box! But if that’s the way the manager wants to play then it’s up to me to get it nailed down.

“But, again, that was his vision - for me to learn the system and to apply it in game time.

“It’s part of my game that I probably couldn’t show to people because of the way I was asked to play at my previous team. So I look forward to showing people how good I am at it.

“It will 100 per cent make me a better player. That’s exactly the point.

“I want to learn a different side of the game and ‘Angeball’ - as you’ve called it - I’ve played against it and it’s pretty annoying when the boys are chasing after it for 90 minutes and the ball is moving so quickly.

“But I’ve seen it, I’ve competed against it and now I want to be part of it on the other side.”