Brendan Rodgers says he doesn’t regret leaving Celtic for Leicester City four years ago, but has vowed that he will honour his three-year contract in his second spell at the club.
After being unveiled as manager of the Parkhead side for the second time, he said he was ambitious for more success, and hopes to win over sceptical supporters eventually.
Celtic announced on Monday that they had secured a deal for Rodgers to return as the replacement for Ange Postecoglou, who departed for Tottenham Hotspur after winning the treble last season.
Having achieved a clean sweep of domestic trophies in two successive campaigns, one of them undefeated, Rodgers returns to Glasgow with a formidable record, and he said he was delighted to have been asked to come back and take on fresh challenges.
“I’m very privileged and honoured,” Rodgers said at his first media conference after being appointed. “My whole plan was to have a year out and reset but once I spoke to the guys at the club and looked a little more deeply into where the club is at, it was pretty straightforward.
“The club is in a fantastic place and it made me really excited to come back.
“It wasn’t a nostalgic move, but I had an amazing time here. I’m here to win going forward, and I really look forward to hopefully achieving that.”
Rodgers’ sudden exit for Leicester City in 2019 left many Celtic supporters angry. The team had already won the League Cup and were aiming for a third successive treble and a record tenth consecutive title.
Asked about the strong feelings that remain with some about his departure, he said:
“It was a sad moment. I certainly don’t regret it.
“What I do regret is the hurt that it caused people.
“It’s the very reason why I’m sat here today. As a Celtic supporter I understood what it meant and probably even more so when I left. So that was my one regret, that I hurt people who were Celtic supporters and it was a big part of coming back.”
The 50-year-old doesn’t anticipate a huge change to the squad he has inherited, but wants to make quality additions, and foresees a smooth transition after Postecoglou’s time in charge, saying they share a similar attacking philosophy.
Rodgers is aiming to put out a winning side in Scotland and make a successful defence of the three trophies the team won last season, but also thinks there is room to progress in Europe.
“I think your bread and butter is always Scotland,” he said. “I think you have to ensure that you have dominance whilst you are here.
“But I would like to think there’s something we could do in Europe.
“It’s well-documented over many years when the club hasn’t qualified or gone through. Even though that is a challenge, with the resources other clubs in European football have, it’s a great challenge for us.
“We’ve got Champions League football group stage football this season and we’ll look to have European football after Christmas.
“That’s a great challenge for us all.”