GIORGOS GIAKUMAKIS is on fire ahead of Celtic’s rendezvous with fate in Bodo on Thursday.
He’s buoyed by Sunday’s hat-trick that beat Dundee and put league-leading Hoops three points clear of stumbling champions Rangers.
But 27-year-old Giakumakis is showing no sign of relaxing after the first three-goal volley of Parkhead’s career, which appears to be finally taking off.
The Greek hitman has now scored seven goals since last summer’s £2.5m move from Dutch minnow VVV Venlo – six of them this year and four in his last three games.
And he aims to score every game of the season since Bodo/Glimt in Norway.
Celtic are 3-1 behind last week’s first leg.
Encouraged, Jakoumakis said: “Of course, I am delighted.
“Everyone criticizes a striker if he doesn’t score goals, so that’s what makes me very happy when I score.
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“This is what makes me very happy. But for me, this is not the only thing I have to do on the field.
“It’s part of my game, but whenever I score and put on a good game, I feel like my game is over and that makes me even happier.
“I know that everyone criticizes a striker for not scoring. When you’re a forward, goals are your fuel.
“I am happy with my game when I score and I hope that I can do it in every single game to help the team now.
“We will work harder every day and I will try to improve from game to game. I feel fit, I feel healthy. For me, this is the most important thing.
“Of course, I always try to improve. I can never say that this is my limit, because I never believe in limits. That’s why I work hard every day.
“I feel like I can score a lot more goals this season. It’s one of my goals right now to score a lot more.
“My main ability is to score with one touch. But I try to improve every bit of ability that I have.
“I always try to improve my touching and dribbling.
“I try to score from every possible position because I’m a striker and I can’t predict what situations will come up in a game.
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“I have to be prepared for every possible situation.”
Jakoumakis provides the brute force for the Celtic attack, but also credits him for how nimble he can be in finishing moves.
His quick turn and right foot execution to equalize the Hoops with Dundee was second to none.
He was then in the right place to kick with his left foot after Dark Blues goaltender Ian Lawlor deflected a Daizen Maeda cross.
And he completed his perfect hat-trick with a superb run to the front post to meet Tony Ralston’s cross and beat Lawlor with a slanted head.
But Jakoumakis must have felt like an evil eye during his first months at Celtic.
He constantly struggled to keep fit and had to deal with minor injuries and even illness during his warm-ups ahead of his scheduled debut.
In October last year, in a 0-0 home draw against Livingston, the last penalty was converted.
Then, as he began to build strength through games, last November in Dundee he suffered a knee injury that required surgery and two months of rehab.
However, it speaks to the Greek international’s strength of character that he dedicated himself to work during the winter break, forgoing days off to return as soon as possible for Anze Postekoglou.
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Now Giakumakis is earning his accolades and is sure to be in the starting XI to face the Norwegian champions in the second leg of the European Conference League playoffs.
He added: “In the beginning it was difficult. But you grow out of these difficulties.
“You become much stronger mentally, and in the end it helped me a lot.
“It doesn’t matter to me how I lost my first six months here. It is what it is and I cannot change it.
“Of course, it didn’t make me happy, it was very hard for me.
“But now I can say that I’m back with the team and I’m ready for new chances and more success.”
Meanwhile, Jakoumakis is grateful for the team spirit at Parkhead and for supporting the players during his troubles, especially after his hellish penalty against Livy.
He said, “They helped me a lot. Even after that missed penalty, everyone came up to me and said that everything is in order, and we will return the points.
“We are not children. We ourselves must strengthen our mentality.
“I owe a lot to my family. They are my strength and they deserve my every success and every happiness.”
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