ROBERTO MANCINI admitted he was amazed when he heard Liverpool had sacked Brendan Rodgers in 2015.
The Italian was then at Inter Milan and the Celtic boss had come so close to winning the title with the Anfield side the previous season.
The pair almost teamed up when Mancini was at Manchester City before the Irishman got the top job at Swansea.
The much-travelled gaffer is now manager of Zenit St Petersburg and the coaches will go head to head at Parkhead on Thursday when the Hoops face the Russians in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.
Mancini recalled: “Brendan had the chance to be a coach with me a few years ago when – it seems like – we were a lot younger!
“Brendan is a very good manager. He did great work at Liverpool and was really unlucky to lose his job at Anfield.
“He was so unfortunate not to win the Premier League with them back in 2014 – and then a year later he was gone.
“That told me that football can be a strange game sometimes.
“But Brendan has huge qualities and that’s one of the reasons why it will be very tough for us in Scotland this week.
“Celtic are a great team with some really good players and they’ve got a top manager.
“To play at Celtic Park will be difficult for us because those supporters are incredible.
“The crowd will be fantastic for the first match, but, for us, it’s a great place to play football.”