KRISTOFFER AJER doesn’t buy into the theory that you should never go back. The big Norwegian savoured the chance to return to Glasgow on Sunday evening on international duty, even though it was something of a bittersweet experience as a guest at Scotland’s qualification party.

He has also been pleased to see the return of Brendan Rodgers to these parts, with the Celtic manager playing a pivotal role in the early stages of his career development.

It was Rodgers who first suggested that perhaps his prodigious galloping gait would be suited more to the centre of defence than the midfield, and who honed him into a player who made a valuable contribution to the club before eventually making them a right good few quid with his move to English Premier League side Brentford.

For that, Ajer will always be grateful. And his love of Celtic endures just as much as his gratitude towards Rodgers. He is certain that the reunion between those parties, which has got off to a more than decent start, will end again in a flood of silverware.

“It was special to come back to Scotland,” Ajer said.

“I loved my time in Scotland, so it was great to be back again.

“It’s great to see my old manager back at Celtic as well and to see them doing so well again. I am really happy for them because Celtic will always be special to me.

“Brendan was amazing for me, the way he helped me, the way he spoke to me. The one-to-one conversations he had with all of the players was amazing.

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“When I signed for Celtic at 16-years-old I was a central midfielder. I think the intention was always to become a centre back eventually, but the manager spotted that very early.

“I went out on loan to Kilmarnock and that was important for me to get some game time, but he always kept in touch. He’s a top, top manager. I am happy to see him back and doing well.

“Do I expect him to be successful the second time round? One hundred percent. I have no doubt he will be successful because he’s a fantastic manager.”

It was nice for Ajer too to catch up with some old friends on Sunday, though it was a slightly strange experience for him to be playing against the likes of Ryan Christie and Greg Taylor.

Memories of lining up on the same side as them at the national stadium dominated his thoughts when he walked back out onto the Hampden turf.

“Yes, [it was great to see] Ryan, and Greg was also one of my groomsmen at my wedding,” he said.

“It was special to see them, and I wish them all the best for the summer.

“I have fantastic memories. I was standing there listening to the national anthem and really enjoying the moment. I have best friends in Glasgow and playing against them on Sunday was special.

“I had some fantastic memories. I remember we beat Motherwell here [in the 2018 Scottish Cup Final], that was amazing. It was my first big cup final. The 1-0 win over Rangers was also special.

“It’s always special to see them and I wished them all the best.”

That was a gracious gesture from Ajer, who still – like most Norwegians – carries something of a niggling resentment over the two-goal turnaround Scotland somehow engineered in Oslo to spark wild scenes of celebration for the Tartan Army, the one minute and 44 seconds that effectively killed Norway’s hopes of reaching Germany.

“Yes, that was the killer,” he said.

“We played well up to the crazy two goals. That was obviously disappointing.”

Equally as gracious though was his assessment of Scotland’s chances of making an impact at the European Championships next summer.

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Ajer just missed the Steve Clarke revolution at Kilmarnock having enjoyed a loan spell at Rugby Park a few months before the now Scotland manager pitched up in Ayrshire, but he feels he knows him and his team well enough to predict that the Tartan Army could be in for a tournament to remember.

“Are they a team that can do something at the Euros? Absolutely,” he said.

“They are a very strong team, who play for each other. They have a very nice squad so I am sure they can do well. They have a great chance.

“They make it tough for every team they play. You saw they beat Spain 2-0, so they can beat anyone on their day.

“It’s going to be exciting to see them there – I just wish we could be there ourselves.

“We knew it was going to be a hectic game [on Sunday]. Both sides like to attack and there were going to be big spaces on a big pitch at Hampden. It was probably entertaining to watch.”