SCOTT Sinclair sought out Stiliyan Petrov, who was training alongside him at Aston Villa in a brave, but ultimately forlorn, attempt to resurrect his playing career, as soon as he learned that Brendan Rodgers was keen to take him to Celtic last summer.

Sinclair, who had struggled to perform at his best as a poor Villa side were relegated from the Barclays Premier League last season, knew that Petrov had played at Parkhead earlier in his career and was keen to gauge his opinion on the prospective transfer.

The Bulgarian emphasised to him he would be playing in some less glamorous surroundings than he had become accustomed to in the English top flight if he agreed to the move. “I told him up in Scotland you will find yourself in dressing rooms where you are not even able to put your bags down because they are so small,” he said.

The former midfielder, though, predicted that he would love the experience and urged him to jump at the opportunity that awaited him in Scotland. He has monitored his spectacular campaign closely since and was delighted to find he had been proved right when they met up in Glasgow at the weekend.

“I spoke with him and he couldn’t speak highly enough about Celtic, the club and the fans,” said Petrov. “It’s his first season here and he has been blown away by it. He’s won everything and the fans love him. When you do it for a club like this you are adored.

“I’m not surprised at how good Scott Sinclair has been for Celtic. I had the pleasure of doing pre-season with Scott last year and you can see the quality that won him a move to Manchester City.

“He hadn’t played that regularly for Aston Villa when Celtic came calling. There were a lot of questions in his head because a lot of other clubs were in for him, but Brendan Rodgers played a big role.

“He was asking me questions about the football, the stadiums he will be playing in. I explained to him that he won’t be impressed by them, but he will be impressed by the fans, the club, and now he thinks it’s the best place he has played.

“As I say, some of the grounds are tiny. But you know what? When you go out you will always have thousands of very passionate Celtic fans wanting you to win. Now when I speak to him he says I was right.”

Sinclair endured a few difficult seasons after moving to Manchester City in an £8 million transfer in 2012 and was loaned out to both West Brom and Aston Villa, who he ended up moving to, after failing to hold down a first team place at the Etihad Stadium.

Petrov, who became a youth coach at Villa two years ago after being forced to retire from playing due to leukaemia, feels the former Swansea City man just needed the right manager to bring out the best in him and is pleased he has now got that having been reunited with Rodgers.

“I don’t think he was lost, he just wasn’t given a proper chance,” he said. “He would be in the team for one game and then he would be out of it again.

“Players like Scott are confidence players and they need to play every week. Brendan Rodgers knows that and he’s handed him a big role. Brendan has known how to use him perfectly.”

It cost Celtic a cool £3.5 million to land Sinclair and the player is also one of the highest earners, if not the highest earner, at Parkhead. But his transfer fee and the weekly wage he receives are dwarfed by the sums splashed out on players down south and the salaries they command.

Petrov, however, feels the presence of a highly-respected figure like Rodgers, who has a proven track record of developing young players, will enable the treble winners to attract signings they may not otherwise be able to due to the financial restrictions they are working under.

The 37-year-old feels there are uncanny similarities between Rodgers and Martin O’Neill, who he worked under for at both Celtic and Aston Villa, and predicts a bright future lies ahead for his former club under the Irishman’s guidance.

“I know how difficult it is to attract players to Scotland and for them to stay here,” he said. “But if you have a manager like Brendan Rodgers. A manager with a plan, who wants to achieve things, you want to play for someone like that.

“It’s similar to Martin O’Neill. He gave us belief, but also he made sure everyone knew if they wanted to achieve they needed to work hard. If you don’t work hard, there are other players looking over your shoulder and waiting to take your place. If you don’t give everything you will lose your place.

“I played in a very special team. That team broke up. People were leaving and I felt it was my time to move on and challenge myself a bit more. I don’t feel it was a wrong decision. It was just time for me to move to the next level.”