Celtic Rangers powderkeg is nothing compared to Greece: Samaras
Georgios Samaras believes Old Firm passions pale in to insignificance in comparison to derby games in his native Greece.
The Celtic striker, 26, signed a new three-year deal to keep him at Parkhead until 2014 on the day that police visited the Hoops’ training ground at Lennoxtown to warn players about their behaviour in tomorrow's Co-operative Insurance Cup final against Rangers at Hampden.
The Scottish Cup fifth-round replay between the Glasgow giants at Parkhead earlier in the month — which Celtic won 1-0 — ended with three Rangers players sent off and Hoops manager Neil Lennon and Ibrox assistant Ally McCoist having to be separated at the final whistle.
Consequently, at the behest of Stephen House, chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond convened a summit meeting in Edinburgh attended by Rangers chief executive Martin Bain and his Celtic counterpart Peter Lawwell, as an attempt, in part, to end the trouble surrounding the fixture.
However, Samaras was surprised by the furore and fall-out which followed the game.
“To be honest I was surprised by the reaction because from my point of view it was not so big a deal. It was just the passion of the Old Firm game.
“It is a passionate game and sometimes it comes out — it is normal, we are human and have emotions.
“I have seen much worse things in Greece that cannot be compared to here in Glasgow.”
Hoops assistant manager Johan Mjallby will lead the team out at Hampden as Lennon, from Co Armagh, serves a four-match touchline ban for being sent to the stand at Tynecastle in November.
The former Sweden international admits feeling sorry for his boss but insists the Celtic players will have have plenty of guidance.
“Neil is certainly disappointed that he will not lead the team out or be on the touchline,” he said.
“It is a big blow because he will be less effective in the stand.
“It doesn't really change the dynamics but they are used to hearing his voice.
“We will prepare the team the same way we always do but it is a shame because he is the manager and it would have been fantastic for him to lead the team out.
“But there's nothing we can do about it.
“And it's not that the rest of us are mugs when it comes to football — otherwise we wouldn't be here.”