JOSIP JURANOVIC has revealed the reason why he quit Celtic in the January transfer window to seal a £10million switch to Bundesliga outfit Union Berlin.

The cultured defender believed he had to leave the champions to safeguard his position as Croatia’s right-back.

Juranovic admitted he was “a little bit surprised” when Ange Postecoglou paid £3.5million to MLS side CF Montreal for Canada’s World Cup No.2 Alistair Johnston which would have given the Hoops three international-class players – including Anthony Ralston – fighting for the same position.

ON THE BALL…Josip Juranovic in control in his first season at Celtic.

Twenty-seven-year-old Juranovic, who joined the Glasgow club in a £2.5million move from Legia Warsaw in August 2021, reluctantly realised it was time to go.

The classy back-four performer, who rejected an enhanced contract offer in November just before the global soccer showpiece in Qatar, reflected on the recruitment of Johnston and said: “To be honest, I was a little bit surprised because I was playing in the World Cup and preparing for my next game.

“Some of my friends called me and said they’d signed a new full-back; what’s your opinion about that?

“I was just putting it to the side and concentrating on the World Cup, as it’s the biggest stage in football and I wanted to perform well. In my mind I was thinking, we would have three full-backs and someone will be on the bench and someone in the stands with their family.

“I knew I would maybe not play two games in a row and maybe play the third one.

“I didn’t like some of that stuff – because of the national team. If you are not playing regularly for your club, you won’t get called up for the national team. That’s the main reason why I left.”

HIGH JINKS…Alistair Johnston outjumps Josip Juranovic during Croatia’s 4-1 World Cup win over Canada in Qatar in November.

Ironically, Juranovic and Johnston came face to face in the Middle East tournament when Croatia overwhelmed their Canadian opponents 4-1 in a thoroughly entertaining clash.

On the transfer speculation, Juranovic, speaking in a Daily Record report, continued: “I didn’t think a lot about my situation because first I had the World Cup and I was concentrating fully on that.

“Then I was reading some news that I would be going to, I don’t know, Man United, Chelsea and so on. But we need to be realistic. This was the right move for me from my side.

“In my career, I haven’t ever jumped two steps ahead. I am always going one step then one step, upgrading my career. I want to play football and that is the main reason why I am here.”

THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou embraces Josip Juranovic in a game against Hibs at Easter Road.

Juranovic insisted he had no hard feelings with boss Postecoglou and acknowledged Celtic will always be close to his heart.

He added: “I spoke with Ange one week before I moved. We always had an honest conversation between us. He is a good coach, a really good coach, and I tried to keep him informed.

“I had a really good relationship with the fans. I really loved it. It was a tough time to move way, but that’s life. I was a little bit sad Celtic didn’t try to keep me as a player there. But that is football. You can’t know your future.

“My 18 months there were unbelievable. What can I say about Celtic? It’s one true love.”

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