BRINGING an end to a distinguished playing career that has spanned three decades and seen him perform at the highest level with both his club and his country, was never going to be straightforward for Kolo Toure.

However, the former Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Ivory Coast player’s decision was made considerably easier by the prospect of what awaited him if he did decide to retire – a coaching role under Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.

Toure, who returned to the Parkhead club earlier this month, admitted the chance to work with a man he rates as “one of the best young managers in the world” convinced him to make move from the heart of the defence into the dugout.

“It was quite simple,” he said. “I had a few offers still to keep playing football. When you have been at the top level for big clubs such as Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Celtic the chance to keep playing was good and it was really difficult to say I had to stop. I had done it for the last 20 years.

“But you get to the point you have to move on. I have also been working with one of the best young managers in the world, Brendan Rodgers, for the last few years and the relationship has been really good.

“This is the chance to learn with a guy such as Brendan, which is fantastic, and I’m working with one of the best clubs in Europe. Celtic are massive and for me to be able to work with a great clubs such as Celtic is huge, a privilege.

“To be able to work with Brendan’s staff - Chris Davies, John Kennedy, Stevie Woods is great too. They are great guys and I’m learning an unbelievable amount from these guys every day. Of course, I have played for top clubs and the top level. But this is a new challenge in my life, a new opportunity with a great club, a great manager and great people.”

Describing Rodgers in such glowing terms is high praise from a man who worked under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal for seven seasons. So what sets the Northern Irishman apart from other coaches? Why does the Ivorian rate the former Swansea City and Liverpool manager so highly?

“Simple,” he said. “When you look at what he has done. He was at Swansea and took them up. I remember playing there with Man City. We lost and we had world class players at City and they played and won. That showed this manager is a great manager.

“He knows how to get the best from good players. This is his skill. When you have that skill and for me to be able to work with him and his staff at such a great club as Celtic.”

The 36-year-old, who was in the dugout in the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium on Wednesday night as Celtic recorded an emphatic and important 3-0 win over Anderlecht in a Champions League group game, has no long-term plans.

“I’m just thinking about right now,” he said. “My first challenge is to be part of this great club, be around a top manager and top staff , learn with them and bring my experience as well.

“I’m here, too, to give advice to young players and give my expertise from a playing point of view because when you’re on the pitch you can see things and they can add to the great qualities already in the team. For me, that’s most important.”