FOOTBALL is nothing without fans. That famous sentiment uttered by one former Celtic defender, Jock Stein, is now shared by one of his modern-day successors.

Playing matches behind closed doors has emerged as one possibility as football looks to find a way to emerge from the corona crisis. The Bundesliga could host its first “ghost games” in the coming weeks.

Christopher Jullien, though, isn’t a fan. The defender has already experienced playing in an empty stadium in his native France two years ago and didn’t particular enjoy it. He would not be in a rush to repeat that experience.

“It was a strange moment,” he recalled. “We had a play-off game with Toulouse to stay in the league.

“We played Ajaccio who were trying to come up from the second division and the away leg was moved because of crowd trouble.

“The game was supposed to be in Corsica but, because their supporters had done some really dirty stuff before the previous game, they relocated the match to Montpellier.

“Every word that is spoken on the field you can here and it is strange. It takes some getting used to.

“It’s difficult to play in the stadium when it is empty. The fans are so important in our game. Every situation would not be the same without them.”

Jullien has struck up a close bond with the Celtic support following his arrival last summer and credits that backing for helping him to settle so quickly in his debut season.

“For me the relationship with the supporters is the most important thing,” added the 27 year-old.

“I like to react with them and they have been great to me since I signed. I know they have been there since the club was created but since I arrived they have welcomed me.

“To give them something back has been really important to me. My wife’s family is from Cardiff and they told me that I was going to experience something incredible when I signed for Celtic.

“I just wanted to be accepted. I have been and then I have tried to give them back everything that I could. Hopefully I have been great with them – they have been great with me. It could not have been better.

“This is the best team I have played with since the beginning of my career. I just miss the fact the football is not there anymore. I can’t wait to get back together with my team-mates.”

Scoring the winning goal against Rangers in a cup final – as he did last December – also helped establish an early bond.

“At the end of the day that was such a big achievement,” he added. “It was my first trophy with the club and to do it that day…it was not a good game from us that day.

“But we just wanted it more. We were really focused. When you come through such a difficult game and you win it is just an unbelievable feeling. My family was there in the stand and everyone was so happy. So I could say it’s the best goal of my life.

“I have scored in some big games and those goals have brought me closer to the supporters. Even yesterday the club posted something about my goals and it brought back those memories. I miss those moments and I hope they can come back soon.”

In the meantime, though, Jullien is stuck in limbo like everyone else. He has chosen to remain in Scotland rather than return to France and admits that sport is not at the forefront of his thoughts at the moment.

“I’m still here with my girl and my kid,” he revealed. “We are just passing the time together in the house, trying to stay busy.

“We just have to wait and see what will happen. We are getting some of the best weather! I have a good garden so me and my son are spending some time out there.

“I’m getting out to run but I haven’t been to Lennoxtown for a few weeks. I have what I need here to do my work-outs and there aren’t too many people where I live so I can get out to run during the day. The club sent us a programme individually tailored. It keeps me busy and in shape.

“But although football is so important in our lives it is not the most important thing. Whenever I call my family or friends we speak about whether everyone is safe and well. That’s what matters.

“We just want to get back to our old lives. You sit on your couch now and think about what you would like to do - go into the city, go for a walk with family, have a nice meal.

“It is difficult to think about that. We just pray that everything is going to be fine.”