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Georgios Samaras discusses his love for Celtic, the return of Old Firm derbies

The Rayo OKC striker scored 74 goals in 251 appearances for the Bhoys between 2008 and 2014.

Having enjoyed a successful six-and-a-half-year spell at Celtic, it is certainly no surprise that Georgios Samaras still holds a special place in his heart for the Hoops.

The 31-year-old Greek striker, who joined US second tier side Rayo OKC last month, continues to keep a close watch on affairs at his former club and spoke to NASL.com this week about his time in Scotland and the impending return of the Old Firm derbies against Rangers to the top-flight fixture list.

“It was seven great years, a great club, with fans all around the world,” Samaras said about his Celtic spell. “I had a great time. I love that team from the first day to now. I’m very lucky that I was a part of the club for so many years.

“The Old Firm games aren’t something I can really explain to you in words because you need to be there and see it and feel it. You need to book tickets to go to Glasgow to go to one of these games. It’s something you need to live.”

Samaras originally joined Celtic from Manchester City in January 2008 on an initial loan deal which later became permanent and went on to score 74 goals in 251 total appearances for the club, winning four Scottish Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup before leaving on a free transfer in the summer of 2014.

After a subsequent 12-month stint back in the Premier League at West Bromwich Albion, the 81-times capped Greece international is now embarking on a new chapter of his career across the Atlantic with Rayo OKC and got his first taste of NASL action last weekend as a second-half substitute in the expansion side's season-opening 0-0 home draw against FC Edmonton.

He had been training with the New York Cosmos during the 2015 Fall Season while rehabbing from a long-term back problem which kept him from finding a new club last summer, but a mooted deal with the reigning Soccer Bowl champions failed to materialise in the end.

Nevertheless, the World Cup veteran is happy to have landed in Oklahoma City and believes his newly-formed team have the talent to challenge the likes of the Cosmos right from the outset.

“Everyone knows we are a new club, so I don’t know what people are expecting from us,” Samaras added to NASL.com. “I’m telling you now we have a very good team. I want, and I believe, the realistic target as a team we want to be competitive and try to win every game.

That’s our target and we can be that with the talent on this team. We’ll go all in to win the games.”

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