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.
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.
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.
“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.”