FORMER Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre has said he needed to leave Glasgow to fulfil his international ambitions, but insists he carries the Scottish champions in his heart.

The 31-year-old ended a seven-year spell at Parkhead in the summer when he penned a deal with Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Feiha.

Izaguirre has racked up 93 caps for the Honduran national team and is aiming to reach his third World Cup this week when his country face Australia in a Russia 2018 play-off.

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The left-back struggled to earn regular game time under Brendan Rodgers last season and explained to AFC that he needed to leave the Scottish champions to ensure he earned national team selection.

“I spent seven seasons at Celtic, winning 11 trophies, playing almost 50 UEFA Champions League games, nearly 300 matches overall, I carry them in my heart,” he said.

“In the last six months I did not play much, and they did not want me to leave. I was offered a new contract, but I needed to play constantly to be able to play for my national team.

“I accepted the offer and I am enjoying here. The most important thing is that I am playing every game and enjoying.”

Honduras take on the Socceroos over two legs in the next week to decide who will book a spot at next summer’s World Cup.

Izaguirre will meet a familiar face in Bhoys midfielder Tom Rogic when the two sides face off and the left-back was full of praise for his former teammate.

“There so many good attributes about Tom Rogic, he does almost everything well; a great person and one of the best players I've had as a teammate,” he said.

“But my wish is that Honduras go to the World Cup. I respect Tom as he was my teammate in Celtic for more than three years and always I wish him the best.

He added: “The most valuable moment for a player is to play football for love, and to play for the national team of your country is something very special.

“I have experienced playing in two World Cups, but I want to play the third and do great things for my country.”