FORMER Celtic star Didier Agathe has claimed that the ferocity of the Old Firm rivalry forced him to move home nine times in a year and drive an armoured car to training.

Speaking to French publication SoFoot, the former Hoops wing-back accused Rangers fans of sending him death threats and explained why he never played for Scotland.

Agathe spent six years at Celtic Park between 2000 and 2006 after spells with Raith Rovers and Hibernian, winning three league titles, three Scottish Cups, one League Cup and helping the club reach the UEFA Cup final.

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Now retired, the 42-year-old looked back on his time in Glasgow, saying: “I have so many memories. The Old Firm rivalry forced me to move home nine times in just one season.

“One time some Rangers guys smashed up my car, just because Celtic had won all the domestic trophies.

“On another occasion people sent death threats to my home, so I used an armoured van to go to training.

“I am Catholic, so saw it as a sign when I joined Celtic. One year we were in the middle of Lent, around February-March, with an Old Firm game set for the weekend. I was in a well-known Indian restaurant in Glasgow, where I ate a normal meal respecting the rules of my religion.

“Two days later I drove to training. 300 people were waiting for autographs, and a guy spoke to me saying he was a journalist. I told him I had to train and had been told not to speak to the media.

“After taking a shower, he was still there. I went out shopping and he later showed up outside my house. He said it was about the Indian restaurant, and asked why I went there, but I didn’t answer.

“On the day of the derby the paper printed a headline about me, and a copy of a fake restaurant bill showing I’d ordered dozens of dishes. It was nonsense!

“During the whole game the Ibrox crowd sang: ‘Agathe loves curry’ every time I touched the ball. It was crazy.”

He continued: “The atmosphere at the derby is indescribable. It always gets record TV audiences in Scotland, and it’s shown in the Middle East and the US as both teams have lots of fans worldwide.

“The Old Firm derby is about everything besides football. When I see Lionel Messi saying Celtic Park has the best atmosphere he’s ever experienced I am not surprised.

“We see grandparents come with their grandsons in opposition between Catholics and Protestants. You hear non-stop chanting about the Pope and the Virgin Mary – it is unhealthy and exudes hatred.

“During my time with Celtic we used to play against the likes of the De Boer brothers and Mikel Arteta.

“Rangers paid their players handsomely, and this cost them relegation.

“We achieved a domestic Treble against them, and beat them seven times in a row. We made our mark on the club’s history.

“Players get caught up in what is at stake in the derby, and the entire week before the game is a brainstorming session.

“Fans always tell the players they’d sooner lose to Juventus, Barcelona or any other team than Rangers. This is the one game you must win.

“Both teams will have players who are mentally weak, and they will launch themselves into violent tackles if the game isn’t going their way.

“Some people blow a fuse if they lose a game with so much riding on it.”

Agathe was considered for Scotland selection by Berti Vogts in 2004 as he was eligible to become a UK citizen.

He said: “At first, I would have loved to play for Scotland. But I felt that, even if there was no racism involved, I thought being the only black player could lead to things turning sour for me if things went badly.

“Let’s say I expected a bad outcome, as I knew some people – especially Rangers fans – didn’t want to see me in a Scotland shirt.

“Besides, it was a risk to burden my workload with international matches – bearing in mind I had played my entire career without cartilage in my knees.”