Kolo Toure opens up on Celtic spell and the moment he knew it was time to hang up his boots

Kolo Toure has revisited his lone season at Celtic, where the former Arsenal star helped the Hoops claim a iconic domestic treble before calling it quits on his glittering career.

The 43-year-old spent the 2016-17 season at Parkhead after being signed by Brendan Rodgers, who he had previously played under at Liverpool. The former centre back played a pivotal role in Celtic's legendary Treble-winning campaign where Rodgers team remained unbeaten throughout the domestic season. The ex-Ivory Coast star was also present in the Parkhead side's memorable 5-1 victory over bitter rivals Rangers that set them up for a record-breaking campaign.

Toure also played a key part in Celtic's Champions League qualifiers in the early part of the season, but saw his game time reduced after struggling in a 2-0 group stage defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in October 2016. Toure would go onto make just five more appearances before opting to hang up his boots and join Rodgers' coaching team. Despite his brief stint in the east end of Glasgow, the Ivorian has very fond memories of his time with the club.

Speaking on the High Performance Podcast, he said: "Joining Celtic, I was going there because of Brendan Rodgers. I was following Celtic a little bit, but not overly, I have to be honest. When I trained there I wasn't sure what I was going to see there. I went to the training ground, I see the people, I see the fans it was incredible.

"The passion, it was incredible. They love the club, they love the club. The competition between Celtic and Rangers. There's not many like that. It's religious, I would say. They don't like each other, they hate each other.

Toure was then asked about his mindset going into matches during his time at Parkhead and also shared his experiences of witnessing the passion from supporters of both sides of the Old Firm. He added: "Win games. Win football matches. Especially in Scotland. Make sure you win the title.

Brendan Rodgers with Kolo Toure -Credit:SNS Group
Brendan Rodgers with Kolo Toure -Credit:SNS Group

"Make sure you win every single game you play against them. When I played, it was the first time when Rangers came up from relegation and we battered them 5-1. I played in that game. It was intense, it was a really good game and we played very well.

"At the end of the game, I was driving my car and I saw police in the middle of the road. There were two sets of fans on the left and right, it was Rangers and Celtic fans wanting to fight each other. I turned quickly and drove to go the other way. Yeah, it was incredible in Scotland."

Toure admitted it was difficult to come to terms that his playing career was on its last legs at Celtic, saying: "It's difficult when you feel like you're losing your strength. Because I was a powerful player and I was used to winning my duels all the time, I was suffering inside. I couldn't cope with the intensity in training, I was getting passed by young players and hated that.

"I remember the moment I decided to retire. There was a game. We had a break after December and we came back. I remember having a conversation with Brendan and he asked if I would be able to play that game."

Toure also recalls his role in helping a younger member of the squad get more opportunities He said: "We had a young player, Dedryck Boyata he was doing very well at training that week before we started the second half of the season. I thought I had to make sure I didn't play that game or I'd make the team lose. I don't think I was at my full potential.

Toure and Boyata -Credit:SNS Group
Toure and Boyata -Credit:SNS Group

"I said to the boss 'Play that young player'. As a human, you have to know your limitations. I realised at that moment, let this boy play. He's doing very well in training, he's fit, just give him this chance. Going back to Martin Keown he supported me when I came to Arsenal. He never stopped me developing myself and I was thinking I don't want to stop this young boy from developing.

"I had a conversation with Dedryck. He was down because he wasn't playing. But I told him to stay calm. I was so honest with him and said 'Listen, I'm playing because the manager respects me a lot because of my experience. But stay calm, you're going to play.."