Gary Mackay-Steven compares New York City to a ghost town these days. Like a zombie has taken a bite out of the Big Apple.

The former Celtic and Aberdeen winger traded Scottish football for the MLS last year and has enjoyed the hussle and bustle of one of the world's biggest and most visited cities. Since strict lockdown protocols were put in place to fend off the coronavirus pandemic, however, it has been more World War Z than NYC.

"It feels like I'm an extra in I Am Legend," Mackay-Steven joked. "It's different, very bizarre. You'd have never thought a place like Times Square could be so quiet, one of the busiest places in the world, it's really sad. But it's necessary at the moment to keep the virus under control and keep people safe and well.

"Obviously we are a few months into everything now, it's becoming the new normal. It's crazy to think that everything has stopped but it's not just the football world. When the time is right and it's safe and okay, I'm dying to get back and play football.

"The sanctions are the same over here as well as Scotland, we were maybe in lockdown a week earlier than the UK. It was mostly be at home as much as possible, only go out for your food shop and supplies. Before when you had a little bit more time, you could do anything in the city, go see a show, basketball game and things like that. We're at a standstill now in every way so it's a lot different."

The sporting world, and indeed the globe in general, could never have foreseen such a nightmare situation as the COVID-19 chaos. Another thing Mackay-Steven may not have predicted back when he joined New York in June 2019, would be that he would soon be reunited with a manager he worked with halfway across the planet just a few short years ago.

Ronny Deila put pen to paper on a deal to take over as NYCFC manager and Mackay-Steven was left doing the double-take. Understandable, perhaps. The Scottish football managerial merry-go-round is one thing, but having a boss follow you more than 3,000 miles was worthy of a rubbing of the eyes for Mackay-Steven.

But, having won two Scottish Premiership titles under the Norwegian's tutelage, GMS was delighted to work with his old gaffer again, bringing somewhat of a familiarity to a brand new country. "It was a big surprise, you don't expect these things," the winger said. "You'll maybe come across the same manager if you go back to the same club or the same league. Certainly having the same manager in different continents is strange, it shows that football around the world, even, is a small place.

"I was very happy, I really enjoyed working with him before, his style and views on the game really resonates and suits my style. It's just a shame, he was getting his points across and the team were adapting, but the season has stopped as he was really finding his feet. I'm sure he'll be a big success when it does get back underway."

One issue Celtic's stars seemed to have with Deila back during his Parkhead days was the strict, yet apparently strange diet he imposed on his players. He banned chips and fizzy juice, pasta was frowned upon but whipped cream strawberries were allowed. Mackay-Steven himself criticised the decision in the past.

Thankfully for the playmaker, "It's all different now," he revealed. "The backroom staff are all totally different from when I was at Celtic, there's maybe certain passing drills I recognise, but it's all different and new.

"Ronny has adapted as a coach, on and off the field, and developed as he's gone along. He's brought new fresh ideas to everyone. He didn't bring the nutritionist, our chef [at NYCFC] is the same as before!"

Celtic, Mackay-Steven says, will always have a special place in his heart, no matter where he ends up. Having won trophies and played in Europe, the former Dundee United ace also played his part in their quest for the fabled 10 in a row.

And he admits he will always keep an eye out for their results because he formed bonds with ex-teammates he will cherish beyond his playing career. He concluded: "I always look out for Celtic's results and it's not until you've been a part of the club that you realise how amazing Celtic is, the support, club, players. There was a lot of highs, some lows. It was a crazy ride and I enjoyed every minute. It's great to see them continuing their success and continue to do well.

"I still speak to a few of the boys and I'm happy for all of them. The standards, from the top to bottom of that club, is so high and winning is everything. When I was part of it we had the Invincible season which was incredible to be part of, then the treble Treble. Hopefully they can continue and really show, I think they would've done it again."