Callum McGregor came close to helping inflict a major upset at Brendan Rodgers’ expense the first time their paths crossed.
Three years ago, Celtic midfielder McGregor was on loan at English League One club Notts County when they forced Liverpool into extra time at Anfield before losing 4-2 in a League Cup second round tie.
While that night ended in disappointment for McGregor, he made a positive first impression on the man who is now his boss at Celtic.
The 23-year-old, who made his first competitive start under Rodgers in Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League qualifying win over Lincoln Red Imps, now hopes to build on that and help the former Liverpool manager achieve success with the Scottish champions.
“I spoke to the manager briefly about that game at Anfield and he remembered I had played in it,” said McGregor.
“Liverpool were 2-0 up but we got it back to 2-2 before losing in extra time. I had an assist in the game. We just had a chat about it and he spoke about the goals I’ve scored for Celtic over the past couple of seasons.
“He is a really good people person and has been excellent since he came through the door at Celtic. I’m sure all of the boys here will agree.
“After the first leg defeat in Gibraltar last week, he spoke to the players and made sure we were all sticking together. He stressed that we are in it together and everyone has to have each other’s backs.
“He was being really positive and you saw, with the result on Wednesday night, that we turned it around. It wasn’t panic stations. Everything was calm and collected. We knew we could turn it around at home and we did.
“The games come so quickly at this stage of the season and they are obviously really important ones. We need as much guidance as we can get from the manager and hopefully everyone sticks together and we can do it.
“The performance in the first half on Wednesday was excellent. We got a quick three goals and put the thing to bed. We played with a really high tempo and when we lost the ball, we pressed hard to get it back quickly.
“It was really enjoyable to play a part in that. It was good to go through and now we look forward to the next round.”
Ahead of the first leg of that third qualifying round tie against Astana in Kazakhstan next Wednesday, Celtic will play a high-profile International Champions Cup challenge match against Leicester City at Parkhead today.
“We know it’s not going to be easy in Astana, especially with the travelling and conditions over there,” added McGregor. “We’ll just need to be ready for it, prepare properly and go out and get a good result.
“We’ve got Leicester first and we know that will be another test for us but we’ll be a bit fitter and stronger and we can take that into the game on Wednesday. We are still only four and a half weeks into pre-season training, but we are getting fitter every day. We are training hard and the manager is trying to get his style of play over to the players.
“In the last couple of games, against Wolfsburg last Saturday and then against Lincoln, you could start to see what he has been giving us tactically and technically. It is starting to come together. So hopefully on Wednesday night, we will be ready.
“The last time the club played in the group stage of the Champions League, I was away on loan at Notts County. It’s something I want to achieve with Celtic and hopefully we can do it this time around after missing out in the qualifiers in the last two seasons.
“We’ve loads of attacking options and you saw on Wednesday it was a really attack-minded team. So we know we’ve got that in the locker. That system is more suited to going forward. I know a lot of the time in Europe, in these tougher games, you might not be able to be as attacking as we were against Lincoln. But we know we’ve got that option. We can put a lot of attacking players on the park and go and put a performance on.”