Kyle Lafferty has said that he turned down the chance to join Celtic early in his career.
Lafferty was a diehard Rangers supporter growing up in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland and ended up signing for the Glasgow club in 2008.
However, ahead of that transfer from Burnley, Lafferty claims he had the opportunity to sign for Rangers‘ bitter rivals Celtic. To say that Lafferty and Celtic would not have been a natural fit, would be a gross understatement.
The Northern Ireland striker said in a recent interview that, for a split second, he considered Celtic’s offer, but could not bring himself to sign for the club. He said he ‘would not have been able to go home’ had he joined the club.
“Celtic (are a) massive club, (there was a) chance of winning trophies and playing in the Champions League,” Lafferty said during an interview with Open Goal.
“I don’t think I would have been able to go home, it just would have been so hard. I was in and about the Northern Ireland team, I was a young boy, an up and coming “star” in the team.
“I think it would have been hard for me and hard my family back in Northern Ireland as well, just with everything that came with it.”
Lafferty said he spoke to then-Celtic manager Gordon Strachan about the potential move and that the Scot tried to convince him to join his side.
Strachan said that, like Lafferty, the Celtic supporters disliked him too when he was a player, but he had won them over. But Lafferty wasn’t convinced.
“Gordon rang me and he said, ‘Listen, big man, Celtic fans hated me, but look at me now, they worship me’. He did say all the right things, but I couldn’t have done it.
“Thankfully, the better team in Scotland came knocking.”
Lafferty also said that his transfer to Rangers occurred despite the best efforts of Owen Coyle, his manager at Burnley. Coyle is a Celtic supporter from Glasgow and former Republic of Ireland international.
Lafferty claims that Coyle was dead-set on him joining Celtic, rather than Rangers.
“My agent’s on the phone, saying, ‘Listen, Owen Coyle’s not letting you go to Rangers. He’s trying to push through this Celtic deal,'” Lafferty says.
“‘Well I won’t play. I’ll just sit there!’ This is me talking as a young 20-year-old. ‘Nah, not happening.’
“So, I don’t want to say I pushed through a deal, because I would have been happy to stay at Burnley. But I was like, ‘I’m not going. I’ve got to stay at Burnley.’
“It turned out Rangers made the bid and after a few conversations with the gaffer and the club, they accepted Rangers’ (offer), so it was brilliant.”
Lafferty played for Rangers between 2008 and 2012, scoring 38 goals in 138 appearances. When Rangers entered administration in 2012, the Northern Ireland striker left for Swiss side Sion.
He has since played for Norwich City, Palermo and Hearts. Lafferty returned to Rangers for the 2018/19 season, and last played for Sunderland in League One.