By Harvey Byrne
Manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed he once talked current Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes out of a move to Celtic.
Hayes, 29, is currently playing for Rodgers’ closest competitors in the Premiership table, but 14 years a go the pair were at English club Reading together with Hayes leaving Ireland for the Championship side’s youth team, where the current Hoops boss was manager of the younger team.
Now, the duo have both gone on to have successful careers in their respective field with Rodgers managing the likes of Swansea, Liverpool and now Celtic, while Hayes has become one of the best players in the Scottish top-flight with Aberdeen.
However, it could have been a different story for the right-winger and he could have in fact joined Celtic at an early age had it not been for Rodgers, who has revealed he talked him out of making the move to Glasgow.
“Jonny was ready to join Celtic at 16 and I talked him out of it,” told Rodgers, as quoted by the Scottish Sun.
“What did I say to him? It was just that you don’t want to go to Celtic.
“Martin O’Neill was the manager at that time, so you imagine the job I had then convincing him not to go to.
“I remember he went to an all-Irish speaking school in Dublin.
“He was a breath of fresh air. He came in to Reading after being at a number of clubs.
“He was very studious, very academic, very bright.
“He was a very clever boy, travelling over to Celtic with another young boy playing for the Republic of Ireland.
“We eventually persuaded him to come to Reading and he loved it.
“Glen Driscoll, who is my head of performance here, used to give him a lift in every morning.
“I convinced him to come to Reading and he probably should have done better than he did.
“He always had the talent and the talent he has now was evident then.
“He wasn’t coached or anything, just a free spirit, but always a talent.
“I have kept an eye on him at Leicester, Inverness and now Aberdeen.”
Both Rodgers and Hayes have had successful season’s in the Scottish top-flight this campaign with the manager leading Celtic to a so far unbeaten season alongside their sixth consecutive title.
Meanwhile, Hayes has been tearing up the league with second placed Aberdeen and has turned into a bit of an assist machine, providing 18 goals while scoring seven himself in 30 outings in the Premiership.
The duo are now set to face each other on Friday in the Premiership at the Pittodrie Stadium before clashing again at the end of the month for the Scottish Cup final.
In other Celtic transfer news, the Hoops are eyeing this Euro pocket rocket.