When Ramon Vega starred alongside Neil Lennon, it was the bleach blonde haircut and dodgy accent that stood out most.

The Swiss ace could barely understand a word, even in his Celtic teammate's most inspirational moments. But Vega still considers the current Hoops boss as one of the top pros he worked with during his playing career.

That's why, more than 20 years later, the former defender is not surprised to see that Lennon has become a roaring success as Celtic's manager.

Amassing eight trophies over his two spells at Parkhead so far, Lennon has proven himself to be a highly skilled tactician with the motivational ability to match.

Vega could see it early doors. As the pair played together at the heart of the Hoops' engine room, the Northern Irishman was always quick to put an arm around his teammates and offer advice. Though on the other side of the coin, he too was more than able to shoot a rocket up the backside of any player not doing their job.

That, according to Vega, was what made him a success. "Neil Lennon at that time he had the heavy accent and the blonde hair," he said. "It was tough to understand him at the start, especially when he was getting angry on the pitch. But he was an absolutely top guy, a very nice guy and he was always willing to help.

"He was also open-minded and a great player, very intelligent on the football pitch and it's great to see him being a success as manager.

"I think he knows how to treat the players and that makes a big difference. It's all about the human aspect of it, how you manage the players. Today, young players are much different from 20 years ago. But Lenny has the interactivity skills with the people and when you have that, 70 or 80 percent of your management skills are already there.

"The rest is obviously the tactical side but management is all about how you prepare and interact with the players. How they respect you and you respect them. And Neil has had some great managers himself to look into, like Martin O'Neill."

Vega added: "He was never afraid to speak his mind even as a player and I think you need that to help as a manager. The Scottish culture can actually be quite brutal in comparison to, say, even the English leagues. Neil has that side to him and I think it's a very healthy thing because the players always know where they stand."

Considered somewhat of a maverick during his spell in Glasgow in 2000/01, Vega was not offered a contract beyond his one year loan deal from Tottenham Hotspur - a fact that still rankles with him, to an extent, all these years later.

Having left Parkhead for Watford and then Creteil in Paris, Vega never did play for a club the size of Celts again before he retired in 2003. But he admits he desperately wanted to remain in Scotland and would STILL be cleaning boots if it meant his time at the Scottish champions was extended following his and the club's treble win.

"Celtic were some of the best times I ever had. It was intense but it was also very successful at the same time. What else can you ask for other than a treble in the one season I was there.

"It was a real shame I couldn't stay longer because I had the best experience. The supporters were absolutely magnificent, you don't forget something like that. I wanted to stay longer but there was no official offer for me to stay there. So what can you do as a player?

"There had been suggestions that I didn't stay because of money but that wasn't the case. I wanted the club to sign me for life! But it was not mutual, I'm not entirely sure why. I had the best time of my career at Celtic and won medals there, they'll be in my heart all the time.

"I'd be cleaning the boots just to be there and feel the atmosphere! It was an honour to play for Celtic."

One serious difference among many since Vega played in green and white has been the level of competition Celtic have faced. After Rangers' financial meltdown in 2012, the Light Blues have struggled to match Brendan Rodgers and now Lennon's dominance.

Steven Gerrard has certainly helped close the gap for Gers, but a seemingly imminent ninth Premiership title in a row for Vega's former employers suggests the Liverpool icon still has a way to go.

Unlike a number of Celtic alum, Vega remains frustrated that Gers have not managed to provide the champions with competition until now. But he hopes the worst is behind his former rivals and that they can up their game to Celtic's level once again - because they are vital for the Scottish game.

"It's disappointing that Rangers got to that stage financially because I think Scottish football needs both Celtic and Rangers," Vega added. "They are the two leading clubs driving the economic side of the game in Scotland.

"When I played Rangers had the likes of Lorenzo Amoruso and other massive players. When we beat them it was the absolute best Rangers and I think at that time it was an achievement for Celtic and our supporters.

"I believe, from that point, Rangers have gone downhill from there. Whether it be bad management or whatever, I don't know, but I hope they have learned from it and are recovering because they are needed in that league, massively."