Emilio Izaguirre has opened up on his second spell at Celtic - revealing he played most of the season on medication and trained on 'one leg' to work through the pain barrier.

The Honduran left-back was re-signed by Brendan Rodgers in 2018 after a stellar seven years at Parkhead under Neil Lennon and then Ronny Deila. A twist of fate he still regards as a blessing.

An incredible 11 trophy haul as well as player of the year awards during his first stint, the 34-year-old could not have asked for much more before his departure. However, after returning from a dismal stretch in Saudi Arabia, the defender was never able to recapture his form in Glasgow.


Having broke his ankle all the way back in 2011, the injury was finally beginning to catch up with the fan favourite. He suffered through numerous games thanks to injections in order to step-up for the club he had come to love. And he recalls one moment in particular - his final Hoops appearance in the Europa League against Valencia - where he knew he was in big trouble.

"That season I was playing in the team when Kieran Tierney was out injured," Izaguirre told Herald and Times Sport. "But then I got injured against Hibs and, in my last game for Celtic against Valencia, I played with anti-inflammatory to try and get through the game with an ankle injury.

"During the Valencia game I remember I couldn’t attack or go forward without breaking through the pain barrier, and that’s something the fans didn’t know. So many people who didn’t even see me play crucified me for that game and, mentally, it was torture. Physically I could deal with playing badly, but mentally it killed me for a long time.

"I took pain medication for the inflammation because I wanted to play that game at Celtic Park. I knew it was my last season with the club. As a result, when Lennon returned to the club as manager, I was effectively playing with one foot.

"For the last four months of the season from February when I got injured against Hibs until May, I was in a lot of pain with my ankle, so I was playing and training on one leg. I had to take medication, and every day for four months I had to ice my ankle.


"Celtic told me that they would help me get an operation on it, but Honduran medics said it wasn’t necessary as it was something that would my body would be able to heal with rest. I wasn’t able to make a comeback in case it worsened it and it affected my training. I was taking medication, in pain from even walking and the injury was something that caused a lot of pain and frustration.

"When Brendan Rodgers left and Lennon returned, he gave me the opportunity, but I don’t remember the last game I was actually available to play in due to the problem with my ankle. It is what it is. I have so much good things to say about Celtic, and I have lots of love and respect for Lennon."

Izaguirre's Celtic career coming to an end coincided with the rapid rise of Kieran Tierney in green and white. And he admits he could see straight away the young Scot was a contender to the throne.

Already a Hoops legend in his own right, Izaguirre understood the power of competition at left-back. That friendly rivalry would only help Celtic as a whole. So there was never any animosity for the young up-start. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Any advice or knowledge Izaguirre could pass down, he would. So there is a sense of pride in the Honduran's mind watching his old pal now star in an Arsenal shirt, £25million later.

"Kieran is exceptional," he said. "One of the best players at Celtic. Kieran has natural talent. He is fast, strong and powerful. It was great to train with him, but of course there was a competition.


"Between us, there was never any envy, I never had any negative feelings towards him. I never had any problems with him due to the fact I wasn’t playing. That’s just football. He’s a boy who was a fan, who wanted to be the best and to always play well.

"I always wish him the best and I still see him on TV and want him to do well. He left Celtic as one of the best young players in the UK and I hope he becomes one of the best full backs in the world at Arsenal."

Tierney may have been the top prospect at Parkhead, but in terms of best professional, Izaguirre holds another in the highest esteem. "The absolute best is Scott Brown," he concluded. "His career is so impressive, he has played for so long at such a high level and he has maintained that standard even at 35-36 years old. He is superb in training."