ST ETIENNE is probably only on England’s radar because of David Beckham and his moment of infamy – but for one Slovakian it is a spiritual home.

Lubomir Moravcik will be in the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard tomorrow night to lend his voice to his country’s bid to reach the last 16 of Euro 2016. And the former Celtic midfielder has never lost his deep connection with the French city even though he stopped playing there 20 years ago.

Moravcik is feted as much by fans of ‘Les Verts’ as he is at Celtic Park, which is why the 50-year-old’s presence at the concluding match of group B may sway a few floating neutrals to back his modest country against England.

As much as the city still conjures up painful memories for the English after their superstar’s dismissal during 1998 World Cup last-16 tie with Argentina, for Moravcik it is a place of inspiration. His six seasons at St Etienne, after helping Czecho- slovakia reach the 1990 World Cup quarter-final, put him on the football map. Like Scotland, Slovakia’s population is just over five million and Moravcik does not want to be outnumbered.

“It is always difficult to get tickets for these games because English people buy them up first,” said Moravcik. “So, it would be good if any neutrals went to support my country. It’d be great to hear French people in the stands cheering Slovakia.

“If that is done as a favour for me, I would be grateful. Saint-Etienne is the club of the people. It was a source of pride for the people of the Rhone region. As footballers, we were idolised. Football is something very important for people in that region.”

The man who won 80 international caps, first with Czechoslovakia and then with Slovakia when it became independent, was appointed a club ambassador by St Etienne in 2013.

“I am going to the England game,” said Moravcik. “I was in Paris when Saint-Etienne won the 2013 French League Cup, their first trophy in decades. It is nice to still be thought of.”

When told he was a hero to the St Etienne supporters, Moravcik joked: “You should tell that to the Scottish press!” in reference to the negative media response on his arrival at Celtic in November 1998 when his fellow Slovak, manager Jozef Venglos, paid just £300,000 to sign him from German side Duisburg.

Moravcik was labelled an “unknown” because at 33 he had little renown in Scotland, but soon changed opinions. After scoring twice in his second game, as Celtic thrashed Rangers 5-1, Moravcik was asked by one reporter how it felt to go from zero to hero? Moravcik turned to his interpreter and replied in Slovak: “Tell him, I was never a zero!”

Moravcik helped deliver two Scottish titles to Celtic before hanging up his boots in 2002, but his exalted status in St Etienne belies a barren era that contrasts sharply with the legendary side who reached the 1976 European Cup final at Hampden and lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

“With Saint-Etienne, I won nothing,” he said. “I was a little surprised to be appointed ambassador, to find myself next to all those players who have won so much. I had some good times and was voted best foreign player in Ligue 1 in 1992.”

When St Etienne were relegated in 1996, Moravcik was sold to Bastia. He spent two years on Corsica, before a brief switch to Germany eventually led to his “Indian summer” at Celtic.

Which is why Moravcik feels it would be foolish of England to write off Slovakia, just because the team only has one “star” name – Marek Hamsik, who scored the spectacular winner against Russia.

“Hamsik is a great player and has shown that at Napoli,” Moravcik said. “Apart from Martin Skrtel at Liverpool and maybe Juraj Kucka at AC Milan, nobody is famous. But that does not mean they are not good footballers.

“We have a lot of players who play across the border in the Czech league. Because football is poorly paid in Slovakia, we have to move abroad. But that helped my career and improved me.

“We have a lot of players around Europe and some younger ones in Italy, while [ex-Rangers winger] Vladimir Weiss is now in Qatar. But we have great team spirit and the coach, Jan Kozak, has turned Slovakia into a good side.”