Steven Pressley: I lost ‘friends’ after move to Celtic

Steven Pressley signed for Celtic later in his career. Picture: SNS
Steven Pressley signed for Celtic later in his career. Picture: SNS
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Former Hearts captain Steven Pressley has revealed that he lost “acquaintances” as a result of crossing the Old Firm divide by joining Celtic in 2006.

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The Scottish international also claimed there was a Celtic/Rangers divide in the Scotland squad when he was a member of George Burley’s staff.

The centre-back started his career at Rangers where he made 34 league appearances before moving down south to join Coventry City.

He would later join Dundee United in a £750,000 transfer before the move which defined his career, signing to Hearts and spending eight years in Gorgie.

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After being released by the Tynecastle club following the “Riccarton Three” fall-out, he joined Gordon Strachan’s side at Celtic.

It was at this point that Pressley said a number of people, whom he would now describe as “acquaintances”, stopped getting in touch.

He told BBC Scotland’s Sportsound programme: “I made the decision for family reasons. I knew crossing the divide was not easy. It would always be a challenge. But we’d just had our second child and had moved close to my wife’s family, and at that time I felt she needed that support.

“It was a great opportunity in the latter part of my career and I made some really good friends. It’s a great club to play for.

“I had certain people that you wouldn’t describe as friends, but acquaintances, the sort who would send you a birthday card or a Christmas card or text and phone every so often, completely lost contact with me.

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“They could not accept me crossing the divide. Ultimately if that’s what friendship is supposedly built on then it’s not friendship, and that’s why I used the words acquaintances because they weren’t true friends.”

Pressley would later take a role on the Scotland coaching staff, working under Burley, his former boss at Hearts.

However, he was still a Celtic player at the time, and the accomplished defender felt there was a bit of resentment over his lack of coaching experience.

He said: “Probably at that moment in time it wasn’t right for me to go in and support George, especially as a Celtic player. There was a real split in the group. The players didn’t get on as they do now.

“Probably within the Rangers camp there wasn’t an acceptance of me. I can understand it, I was 35 years of age and didn’t have much experience coaching.”

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