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Page last updated at 13:33 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 14:33 UK

Hartley has fond Celtic memories

Paul Hartley
Hartley won two Scottish Premier League titles with his boyhood heroes

Paul Hartley insists he is leaving Celtic with fond memories despite not being offered a new contract with the Scottish Premier League club.

The 32-year-old is now expected to complete a move to Bristol City.

The midfielder's deal ran out this summer and new Celtic boss Tony Mowbray decided not to extend Hartley's stay.

"I had a terrific spell there. I won every trophy that there was to play for. All good things come to an end," Hartley told BBC Scotland.

"What most sticks in my memory is the game at Tannadice in the last game of season 2007/08 where we clinched the league.

"We were seven points adrift at one stage and we had seven games to go and we had to basically win every game.

"I think that's probably the highlight, but just being there for two-and-a-half years was a special time for me, to live the dream as they say.

"When you're growing up and you support a team, you always dream of playing for them.

"I was very fortunate that Gordon Strachan gave me the opportunity to live that dream and I just savoured every day I was at the club.

"Any European night at Parkhead's always special. Playing at Parkhead in front of 60,000 will always live in the memory with me.

Sometimes I don't think the media know how to handle him in the way he goes about his business but in the dressing room, he's very good company

Paul Hartley on Gordon Strachan

"I'll always keep my eye open for the results at Celtic and come back to watch the games when I can."

Hartley, who was also linked with moves to Greek side Iraklis Saloniki and former club Hearts, was due to undergo a medical with the Robins last week ahead of a proposed move.

Should the deal be completed, it will mark a return to English football for the Scotland international, having featured for Millwall in the 1990s.

He has also had spells with Hamilton, Raith Rovers, Hibernian, Morton, St Johnstone and Hearts.

"This is me going into my 17th pre-season," said Hartley. "It just flies by.

"You've got to enjoy every minute that you're involved in football. You are a long time retired, so you just try and play as long as you can, as long as you're enjoying it and, thankfully, I'm still enjoying the game and I still love it. I love playing football."

Strachan endured a sometimes turbulent relationship with the Scottish media during his four years as Celtic manager, but Hartley insists the former Southampton boss had no such problems away from the cameras and press pack.

"Sometimes I don't think the media know how to handle him in the way he goes about his business, but in the dressing-room, he's very good company," said the midfielder.

"He's a top-class manager and coach because he wasn't a manager who just sat in the office and didn't take training.

"He was always involved and three out of four championships at Celtic just shows you the kind of manager he was.

"He was very good company and very good to get along with and I had a very good relationship with him."

As well as Strachan, Hartley is thankful for the influence Craig Levein, who signed the midfielder for Hearts.

"Craig took a chance on me, Hartley said.

"He gave me the belief to go and show that I was good player and I've always got him to thank for that.

"He was a fantastic manager, he took a chance on me and everything just sort of kick-started for me and I became a full international."

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see also
Bristol City confirm Hartley deal
06 Jul 09 |  Bristol City
Hartley and Dutchman leave Celtic
02 Jul 09 |  Celtic
Hearts interested in Hartley deal
11 Jun 09 |  Celtic
Hartley glee after Celtic switch
01 Feb 07 |  Celtic

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