IT can sometimes take a little time for a player arriving from overseas to understand the gravity of derby day in Glasgow, but former Celtic midfielder Stilyan Petrov says he was all-too-aware of the importance of the fixture – thanks to regular one-to-ones with Parkhead legend Tommy Burns.

The former Bulgaria internationalist didn’t speak a word of English when he first arrived at the club from his homeland, and Petrov has previously spoken about the challenges he faced when integrating into the first-team squad.

That language barrier didn’t stop the midfielder from being on the receiving end of lectures about the significance of the Old Firm from Burns – with Petrov revealing that the former player, coach and manager spoke so passionately, the new arrival at Parkhead was left under no illusions about what to expect when facing Rangers.

“It’s electric,” Petrov told YouTube channel Fore Hole Challenge. “When I went to Celtic, Tommy Burns would sit me down and talk me through what the Old Firm is all about.

“He would go red and his veins would pop out. He would talk with such passion about how everybody raised their game the week before and what the game means to the city.

“The game hadn’t even started and I was like, ‘Whoa, I want to be a part of that’. He knew that I was that kind of player: I wanted to play, to fight, to battle and to give everything. He knew how to prepare me for it and I loved every single moment.”

Understanding exactly what the fixture means to fans was a key aspect of preparing for an Old Firm, Petrov insists, but so too were the intense training sessions in the lead up to the match.

Petrov continued: “In the week building up to the game, I remember when we had a stronger team. We had Bobo Balde, John Hartson, Chris Sutton, Johan Mjallby… we had rocks.

“In training there were elbows, two-footed tackles – you could feel that something was coming. Before, we always had that competitive edge but when the game comes…

“The interesting thing is Henrik Larsson. When the Old Firm comes, his finishing in training, his approach, his focus – you can smell it. Like, ‘Oh my god, this is special’. I loved every single bit of it because I knew what it was all about.

“The world was talking about that game and I’m part of that game, so I have to be at my best. You can’t be second-best, it’s not allowed. It’s unacceptable.

“It creates that winning mentality for you and that togetherness as a team because we fought together for something special. And it was a special thing.”