Now, though, he wants to make life difficult for Ronny Deila and his men on Tayside. But he still took time off to praise the 18-year-old defender who has taken over from Emilio Izaguirre in the championship-chasing side.
“He’s not doing anything remarkably special, but that’s the sign of a good player at that age. He’s already got that in his game which is remarkable.
“I just know by the look of him – and speaking to other people – that he’s level-headed. He’s just made his Scotland debut and has the potential to have a fantastic career.
“Looking back, when I was at Celtic, I was in and out of things. I was in and then I dropped out. But he’s kept a very experienced player such as Emilio Izaguirre out of the first team which tells you how consistent he’s been. I would imagine he’ll be quite a big player for them in years to come.”
O’Dea, who was injured and missed the goalless draw in Glasgow last month, will now be in competition against his old club for the first time since leaving Parkhead in 2012. He returned to Scotland in January following a spell in India.
He admitted: “It will be a bit strange for me playing Celtic, but once you start the game you just want to win. That’s all I’ll be thinking about. There are no friends on the field in this game, that’s for sure.
“It will probably be more strange for my family to see me playing against them, rather than for them. But I suppose they’ll need to get used to that as I’ve signed here for a few years.
“Of course, I’m looking forward to it because it’s against the best team in Scotland.
“It will be tough and certainly different than what it was at Celtic Park a few weeks ago. I think sometimes away from home, you can sit in and soak up the pressure, whereas at home there’s a bit more pressure on you to go on the offensive.
“With the players we’ve got here – containing so much attacking threat – I think there’s always an expectation to attack.I’m looking forward to it, though, and obviously I’ll know a lot of faces.
“I’m still in touch with Charlie Mulgrew and Scott Brown, who is a best mate of mine.
“But it’s more those behind the scenes as I know everyone from the cleaners to the groundsman.
“I doubt if there will be much banter before the game, as that will probably come after the 90 minutes is done and dusted.”