Brendan Rodgers was welcomed like a King when he joined Celtic in the summer of 2016 and then went on to manage like one making the Hoops invincible, winning a double treble and a magnificent seven trophies out of seven in domestic football.
In February 2019 he left mid-season for Leicester City sparking an angry reaction from Celtic fans and former players alike though speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Rodgers insists that despite the heavy criticism that came his way, it will never diminish or taint the “amazing time” he had in Glasgow.
The 49-year-old admits he understands the emotions Celtic supporters went through when he exited Parkhead in abrupt fashion.
The departure came with the Bhoys eight points clear at the top of the table and well on their way to an eighth successive title with the team playing the attractive football Rodgers is renowned for.
Leicester wanted to appoint the Carnlough native as boss and bring him back to the Premier League, where he had been previously with Swansea and Liverpool, but the original plan was for Rodgers to go at the end of the 2018/2019 campaign only for things to change when Claude Puel was sacked by the Foxes.
In his office at Leicester’s training ground, Rodgers, who lived in Glasgow with wife Charlotte and stepdaughter Lola, said: “Honestly there was sadness that that period had come to an end. Ideally I would have stayed until the end of the season but circumstances changed.
“The original plan was to stay until the end of the season but then it changes and I made the decision to leave Celtic in what I felt was a really strong position.
“I felt the club was in a really good position from a football perspective, financial perspective and a winning perspective. So, yeah then it was on to the next step.
“Obviously there was a lot said within Celtic, outside of Celtic and media but I’ll never let that ever diminish the amazing time I had there because for me it is all about the feeling.
“I understand Celtic people and supporters when I left. I totally get that because a loss of anything there is always sadness and anger and I totally get that and how I left it was the probably the shock element of it.
“I look back and think more of the amazing time I had not just on the pitch but off the pitch and the support I had and the friends we made.
“Living in Glasgow was an amazing experience.
“Lola went to school there to Kelvinside and she loved the school, made lots of friends who we are still in contact with today.
“We travel up when we can and the experience will never be tainted by anything else.”
In his first season in charge, Celtic were Invincible going undefeated through the entire campaign as they won the Scottish Premiership, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup in scintillating, record-breaking style.
“That was an incredible feeling,” says Rodgers smiling at the memories.
“I look back on that first season and especially how it started when we lost to Lincoln Red Imps (in the first leg of a Champions League tie) and to have gone through it unbeaten domestically was a real demonstration of resilience, mentality and quality.
“The numbers that we had that season and to be relentless with it was fantastic having had a Champions League campaign where you can slip up so easily after massive games in Europe. It was fantastic to see the happiness of the players and the supporters and the vibe it brought was incredible.”
On the entertainment factor, he added: “That is always important to my teams. It’s where I get the joy out of coaching.
“When I went into Celtic they had won five titles (in a row) so they had been winning and when I went in I felt it important to win in the best way that we possibly could.
“In the first season we broke records so we won in the best way we possibly could. It’s not just the winning, the performances are very important to me.
“That’s where improvement comes and where development comes and that’s where you have longevity.”
The Rodgers record against Rangers was sensational. Looking back on those matches, he states there is nothing quite like an Old Firm derby.
“Thankfully we won most. I think we had 13, won 10, drew 2 and lost 1 so they were quite enjoyable,” he said.
“They are memorable games and it is an intensity like no other.
“Managing Liverpool v Manchester United games and Liverpool v Everton games there’s a tension there of course and an anticipation of the result but there is nothing like a Celtic v Rangers game. It’s more than football and thankfully we came out on the right side more than not.
“They are two massive football institutions with passionate supporters.
When you have clubs like Celtic and have that support base and that passion when it’s good it is right up there and when it’s not going so well that passion comes out in another way.
“Those Celtic v Rangers games were incredible at both stadiums and I really hope we get back to a point where you have 7,000 or so of the away supporters at each ground.”