Kyle Lafferty: My heart would never let me join Celtic
Kyle Lafferty has revealed that Celtic were never going to win the race for his signature.
Just hours before the Northern Ireland international plans to shoot down the Hoops at Parkhead, the Rangers striker explained he could never have left Burnley for Celtic.
Former Celtic supremo Gordon Strachan wanted to see the Kesh man don the famous green and white jersey in 2008 but it was his boyhood heroes Rangers who signed him.
“Gordon Strachan really wanted me and I think there were two or three transfer windows where he tried to sign me,” said Lafferty.
“But once I heard Rangers wanted me too my mind was made up instantly.
“I had to be honest with Gordon. I didn't want to tag him along. I thought it was the best way to be.
“I didn't want to tell Gordon I wanted to play for Celtic knowing deep down that I didn't.
“My heart wouldn't have been in it if I'd gone to Celtic.
“So I had to be straight with Gordon. I respect him as a manager and I genuinely appreciated his interest in me.
“But it was an easy choice for me to join Rangers — and it's been the right choice.
“Gordon thanked me for being honest with him. I think he's a nice guy and he's someone I regard as a top manager.”
Lafferty endured a nervous wait before he was able to put pen to paper at Ibrox.
He said: “Celtic made a few offers for me at the same time as Rangers. I think there was a bit of a bidding war. But deep down I knew where I really wanted to go. Being a Rangers fan I didn't want to go to the other side of the city.
“Signing for Rangers was the realisation of a boyhood dream and it's been fantastic to have been a part of two title-winning teams.”
Meanwhile, current Celtic boss Neil Lennon insists his side are not putting any extra pressure on Old Firm debut referee Willie Collum ahead of tomorrow's Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Rangers at Parkhead.
Lennon is still disgruntled about referee Dougie McDonald's controversial decision to award the Hoops a penalty in last week's win over Dundee United at Tannadice, then change his mind after consulting with his assistant.
The former Northern Ireland international also pointed back to last October when Celtic, under Tony Mowbray, were denied a penalty against Rangers at Ibrox by Craig Thomson, who later admitted his mistake, and to the goal Marc-Antoine Fortune had chalked off against Rangers at Parkhead in January by Steve Conroy. However, the former Celtic skipper is simply looking for a “strong game” from the rookie ref.
“I would say that refereeing an Old Firm game at any time is difficult but when it is your first one, he might be a wee bit extra nervous,” Lennon said. “I just hope he has a strong game. We are not putting any extra pressure on him, from our point of view. We don't want to do that. We just hope that he starts from scratch and sees the game as it is.”