Swansea's Bersant Celina Excited For 'Special' Showdown With Former Club Manchester City
Saturday's FA Cup quarter final evening kick-off between Swansea City and Manchester City is particularly special for Swans' midfielder Bersant Celina.
The 22-year old left Manchester for South Wales in the summer in a £3 million move and now has the opportunity to show what he's all about against the club that played a key part in his development.
"It was like mixed emotions. I was very surprised, obviously it was the first two teams that came up and I was happy but also knowing that we're playing against a very good team," Celina told SPORTbible regarding his reaction to the draw pitting his current club against his former employers.
"We know it's going to be very difficult against Manchester City but to be honest I wanted to play against a big team and it's even more special that it's the team I used to play for."
"I like big games, I like every game to be honest but this is a chance, not just for me, but for everyone in the team to go out there and show what they can do.
"I've always said that it would be good to play against them one day and obviously it's happened now. It's exciting for me."
Celina only made four appearances at City, having loan spells with FC Twente and Ipswich Town before Swansea snapped him up permanently.
He goes in to this game with no hard feelings over not quite making the grade at the Premier League champions, instead it's more about showing City that he's improved as a player.
"I don't think like I feel like I have anything to prove but I want to show them what kind of player they made me into because most of the credit is with the club, Manchester City," he added.
"I want to show them that I've become a better player thanks to their help. I'm still young and trying to get better."
"When I came, at the start it was a bit difficult for me. Just coming alone, I don't have my family or friends but it got easier in time and in the end I feel like Manchester is my home. I had a great time, worked with some great coaches, played with some great players and I learned a lot.
"Obviously I would have liked to have got more chances but things changed when the new manager came and he had his own plans. I had my chance and I did my best but I was very young. I'm still young so I'm just trying to reach that level."
Swansea are a work in progress under former Ostersunds boss Graham Potter and currently sit in 15th place in the Championship. They've been on form in the FA Cup though and are now one game away from Wembley - though Celina acknowledges that they have been drawn against the best team left in the competition.
"It would mean a lot [to get to Wembley]. We've been doing great so far and obviously we want to go the semi-finals when you feel you've got a chance but we know we've got the most difficult team and it's hard.
"We have a lot of young players that are very talented and a young manager that wants us to play good football. I think we can do much better but that's what happens when you have a young team like that. We just need to keep improving together, we have a really exciting team."
These days there's a lot of debates as to whether players should celebrate against their ex club but when asked if he would, Celina is quick to say he's not even got that far in his thought process.
"It's not something I'm thinking about to be honest," the Kosovan international admitted.
"It's hard enough to think how I'm going to score against them! I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to score first but I'm just going to be out there doing my best."
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of Celina's footballing idols along with fellow five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi and the one and only Ronaldinho.
CR7 was once quoted as saying, "Your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable" - and that's something Celina has had to live by this week after his penalty slip against West Brom was widely ridiculed on social media.
Not one to dwell on things, Celina is using it as motivation to better himself.
"There's a lot of people talking, I know a lot of people are laughing about it and I can see why - it is funny - but obviously we lost our game so there's a different side to it from my side where I feel like I should have scored to help my team.
"I'm getting stupid messages from people on Instagram or whatever but it honestly just motivates me. I don't feel I have to prove anything but it motivates me to show them. I put it under the carpet but I still think about it and use it as a positive thing."
Watch Celina strut his stuff and you'll see a No.10 with vision, awareness and a deadly strike from distance. He has seven goals and four assists in the Championship - a tough and competitive league that he is enjoying playing in - yet his objective is to play regularly in the top flight.
"I definitely think I've got the qualities to play in the Premier League. That's my goal - to be a Premier League player - so I'm not going to stop until I get there. Hopefully I won't have too many injuries and I'll get there.
"The Championship is an underrated league and it's good to learn playing here but my goal is to be in the Premier League."