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Brendan Rodgers long time ambition to make Celtic v Rangers Old Firm tie friendlier

That would be the best legacy, says Rodgers

By Jonny Bell

Despite lifting the league title with Celtic, boss Brendan Rodgers hopes that he can promote the fractious Old Firm derby as a friendlier game as his lasting legacy in the Scottish city.

Unbeaten Celtic dropped just four points on the path to their sixth successive title which was confirmed on Sunday.

Speaking about his legacy following the victory, Carnlough man Rodgers said he hoped to leave behind a more harmonious Old Firm and how it's been an ambition of his since his days growing up in Northern Ireland.

"I would hope I could promote a new rivalry," said Rodgers in the Daily Mail.

"Guys like myself growing up where I grew up and the episodes that went on over many years, I have always hoped what I could promote if I came into this job was that it’s okay to be a mad, passionate Rangers supporter and love the club. Be that from Northern Ireland, from Glasgow, from wherever.

"It’s actually all right as well to be a passionate Celtic supporter and live wherever and have that real intense rivalry. But you can be together, live together and have a closeness. Okay, you might need to separate on matchday or whatever, but it’s all right.

"For too long, there has been a rivalry there which, for different reasons, for political reasons, has held it back, certainly where I was from, for many, many years. If I can be an advocate of the other side to that, the positive side to that, I would see that as my job.

Asked if that would be a worthy legacy to leave behind, Rodgers replied: "That would be the best one, for me.

"That’s why I say titles and all of that are great, but there are other things I always look at, human factors and human needs. What also I can do and influence. That’s equally as important.

"Ultimately, it’s about behaviour. If you can behave in a way where you can be passionate about your team but you have got to respect your opponents always. We live together in peace, which is important.

"I think (the situation) is much better. Hopefully it grows year on year, it’s important. As the generations go through, it’s important that it does. It’s a big change at home. It’s a different world to the one I grew up in and the one I have been around. That’s what you want. These are important elements, I feel. As well as the professional element."

Rodgers is well used to the heat of a derby with deep foundations in the city having joined the Hoops from Liverpool but admitted that does not compare to where he finds himself now.

He added: “There is a big Irish contingent in both. What I would say is that on Merseyside, you can have two teams doing well and that’s alright. It’s nice and it’s a real vibrant city. It’s always seemed to me from the outside and now having been in here that one has to be doing really well and the other can’t. I don’t know why that is.

“What I experienced at Liverpool in the season we finished runners-up, we were on a really great season and Everton were having a really good season. It was Roberto Martinez’s first and they finished fifth, while we were second."

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