Brendan Rodgers has opened up on the reasons for his Celtic departure - and told Hoops diehards he had to leave for the good of his career.

The Northern Irishman sparked a furious backlash from fans when he decided to end his all-conquering spell in charge after two-and-a-half years in February to join Leicester.

The timing of the departure shocked supporters with Celtic just two months away from completing eight-in-a-row and a potential unprecedented treble Treble.

But Rodgers - a self-proclaimed lifelong Hoops supporter - has now opened up on the agonising decision to end his association with the club for a new challenge in the Premier League.

 

The 46-year-old says supporters need to realise the decision had to be made on more than emotions alone - it was a career decision.

And he reckons that in Neil Lennon the club has the ideal man to go and secure nine and 10 in a row.

Speaking to Premier Sports ahead of today's Scottish Cup Final, Rodgers said: "It was never going to be easy when I left. I have been a Celtic supporter all my life and will continue to be.

"I think what probably is sometimes hard for a supporter is (to understand) that this is my job, football management is my career and my life and unfortunately at times you have to make professional decisions.

"I felt that at Celtic, we had won the Treble in the first year and created all the records that we did and then we did it again. By the time we left I felt we had given the club a really good base in terms of a financial stability.

"When I arrived at the club the top tier of the stand was shut down. In my time there over three seasons we sold out in season tickets.

"We hopefully produced the level of performance in not just winning but winning with a style of performance that the supporters enjoyed.

"And we created the most amazing memories. When that suddenly changes then I can understand the hurt of Celtic supporters and hopefully in time they can respect my decision that I made. It was for no other reason than the professional challenge.

"I think for my family it was disappointing. I felt more for my family. It was a huge shock for them.

"Hopefully in time people will respect the work I did there. The legacy will not just be trophies but hopefully it will be the feeling that people got when I was there.

"The ideal timing would have been the summer but I was in a position where I needed to make a decision because the situation at Leicester had changed."

Rodgers' fellow Northern Irishman Neil Lennon was quickly installed in interim charge and remains so as the Hoops go for the treble Treble in Saturday's cup final at Hampden.

But whether he remains in charge beyond the summer is still anyone's guess.

Rodgers though has backed the former Hibs man to go on and secure history.

He said: "Neil knows the club and understands the pressures involved with Celtic having played there and managed there. He knows the mentality that's needed - you can be a great coach but you can come in and not be able to deal with the pressure of 60,000 supporters and a worldwide fan base.

"We are both attacking coaches but with different ways of attacking.

"I think he would be a great choice for it. Now that he has won the eighth title the club will be looking to go on and make it nine and make it 10 and I think they will be in a great position to do that."