Georgios Samaras last night signed off from his six-and-a-half year stay at Celtic by claiming that Peter Lawwell, the club's chief executive, forced him out of the door against both his wishes and those of his manager, Neil Lennon.
The Greek striker, who arrived in Glasgow from Manchester City in January 2008 on an initial loan deal which was made permanent the following summer, scored a penalty in yesterday's 3-1 home win over Dundee United and bid a tearful farewell to his team-mates following the presentation of the SPFL Premiership trophy.
However, in a radio interview after the final whistle, Samaras stated that he and Lennon were keen to extend his Celtic career, with Lawwell the man who decided the striker would not be offered a new contract. "We are the champions and that's what counts in the end," said the 29-year-old. "I am very happy for my team-mates and the coaching staff and wish them all the best.
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"I'm leaving. That's for sure, but it was not my decision. I never had an offer from the club. I never had an offer from Peter Lawwell.
I have been seven years at the club and I would have loved
"I had a chat with the manager. He would have loved me to stay and I was happy to stay, but the gaffer and I don't make the decisions. There are people higher up. I have not spoken to any other club. I was waiting to the end to see if they offered me anything, but that is the end."
Lennon stated that the Greek will move on with the best wishes of all at Celtic, but the manager did appear to be under the impression that the striker did have some say on whether he was going to stay in Glasgow.
"It doesn't look like he's going
to be here next year," said Lennon, who has won his third straight title. "I would imagine his mind is made up. I wouldn't have thought there would be any negotiations."