BRENDAN RODGERS has attempted to explain why he quit Celtic at such a crucial stage of last season.
The Irishman departed swiftly only 48 hours before a Premiership game aagainst Hearts at Tynecastle and a weekend Scottish Cup quarter-final with Hibs at Easter Road.
Rodgers and his backroom staff left for Leicester City with Neil Lennon answering the SOS to return to the Hoops.
And the former gaffer feels vindicated in his stunning decision with the Midlands club sitting in second place in the Premier League, eight points adrift of runaway leaders Liverpool.
Rodgers admitted “it was a really tough call” and “the timing wasn’t ideal” to leave the post in charge of his boyhood favourites.
Speaking to the Daily Record, he revealed: “I’ve said it many times, it was incredibly difficult.
“It was a really tough call from a personal perspective and a professional one because my relationship with everyone at the club was great form the boardroom to the dressing room.
“But perhaps now people will have a better understanding of why I made the choice to go when I did.”
Rodgers is convinced the three months he spent settling in at the King Power outfit allowed him the time he needed to assess the squad he had inherited and to work out how to improve it.
He said: “I had a lot think about at the time. The players were absolutely phenomenal for me in my time there. We were on this great journey together. We created a culture which I loved coming into every day. And we were winners.
“We won – we were relentless at it and relentless in our work – and we had success together.
“So, for me to then make the decision to leave them behind was not an easy thing to do.
“But I felt I had taken it as far as I could in that time. I then had a decision to make about going into a new project at Leicester where there is an ambition there and there are challenges that I would be excited by.
“We were 27 games into a league campaign. We were clear at the top of the league, we had already won a Cup and I felt I was leaving the club in a good state.
“Okay, the timing wasn’t ideal for many people, but I felt the club was in a really good place, the players’ mentality, everything around the club was healthy.
“But, because of how quickly it happened, it was probably difficult for some people to accept. But we’ve both moved on since then. Celtic moved on and won the treble which was brilliant. Three trebles consecutively which is incredible
“And I was able to come into Leicester and assess players while they were under pressure because that’s when you can really make judgements. I felt it would give me those last 10 or 11 games of the season to assess what Leicester had and what needed to be done.
“It gave me the time to prepare for the summer so that we were ready to make a challenge at the start of this season. I think it’s worked out well for both parties.”
Rodgers added: “Listen, when you leave Celtic in terms of history, club and support base there are not many bigger in the world. I know that. But then there is the professional challenge of doing something at a different club.
“Of course, Leicester is not as a big a club as Celtic. But the challenge here is trying to break into the elite down here. That’s the big challenge.
“When I went to Celtic they had just lost a Scottish Cup semi final to Rangers who were coming up into the Premiership. The challenge for me was, could we then win and win in a better way and obviously get the supporters back on side. That was the challenge that attracted me.
“So, at Leicester, the challenge was different. They had finished ninth in the table the season before, but they had ambitions to try to challenge. They had spent £100million on a new training ground and assembled a good squad of young players with the potential to improve. I felt that was a really good challenge to take on.”