BRENDAN RODGERS has spoken publicly about leaving Celtic for the first time since his sudden departure to Leicester City earlier this week.
In his first press conference as Foxes boss, the Northern Irishman responded to outrage among Hoops fans who have branded him a "snake" and a "rat" in the wake of his exit on Tuesday.
He also reacted to a video which emerged of a group of Celtic supporters in a pub chanting: "I hope you die in your sleep Brendan Rodgers... with a bullet from the IRA" – abuse which has been widely condemned.
"I've obviously seen some of what's been said and read," the 46-year-old said on Friday afternoon.
"Listen, Celtic supporters will hurt, and I understand that. They are hurt and may be a little bit worried about what may happen with me leaving.
"But what gave me the comfort to move is what we put in place there was going to stabilise the club going forward... we left the club in a very good position".
Rodgers enjoyed unprecedented domestic success with the Bhoys – winning back-to-back trebles after taking over the Parkhead club in 2016 and has left them on course for a third.
Celtic fans unveiled a banner during Neil Lennon's first match back as manager against Hearts at Tynecastle on Wednesday night, which read: "You traded immortality for mediocrity. Never a Celt. Always a fraud."
"The squad has real potential in it and it’s my job to try and maximise that." 📈
A detailed insight into Brendan Rodgers' first press conference as Leicester City manager...
— Leicester City (@LCFC) 1 March 2019
Addressing the banner, Rodgers said: "Words, you always have to be careful with. I’ve seen the banner, the Celtic supporters are hurting.
"They gave me everything so I’m not going to say anything other than that".
Rodgers also admitted his Celtic-supporting family were deeply upset with his exit from the Glaswegian outfit.
He added: "It was a very, very difficult decision. If I was making the decision with my heart, I'd be at Celtic for life because it is an incredible club and a club I have supported all my life.
"It wasn't easy at all. I've got family and everyone who are still deeply upset, but I have to remove that emotion in my career as a football manager and like I say I am very happy that I made the move.
"My family have grown up Celtic supporters and there is real sadness because in my time in Scotland I have made a whole host of friends in the football club itself.
"The players were an absolutely incredible bunch, all the staff were amazing for me and the supporters from the first day I walked in were incredible home and away."