CELTIC chief executive Peter Lawwell tonight described Brendan Rodgers as a manager of the "highest quality" and admitted the Parkhead board had been reluctant to let him leave.

Rumours of tensions behind the scenes between Lawwell and Rodgers have been rife since the Northern Irishman voiced his frustration at the players he had been unable to bring in last summer.

However, Lawwell was unstinting in his praise of the former Swansea City and Liverpool boss after he agreed to take over at Premier League club Leicester City.

He paid a glowing tribute to his accomplishments in the last two and half years - the 46-year-old won back-to-back trebles - and wished him well at the King Power Stadium club.

“Brendan is a football manager of the highest quality and we are very disappointed to see him leave the club," he told the official Celtic website. "This is an opportunity he wished to pursue and that is something we have to respect.

“He gave the club so much and has created so many wonderful memories for the club and our supporters. His achievements are historic.

“When we appointed Brendan we knew we were bringing someone of the highest standard to Celtic. He has dominated Scottish football and ensured that Celtic has enjoyed unprecedented domestic success.

“I would personally like to thank Brendan for all he has given to the club. He has been a tremendous ambassador for Celtic and I wish him every success for the future.”

Rodgers said: “It has been a real honour to serve the club and its supporters across the past three seasons. I have been a Celtic supporter all my life and the reason I came to Glasgow was to work for the club I had such love and affection for.

“From the moment I walked into Celtic Park I have been living my dream and, together with the players, staff and supporters, we have been on an amazing journey, which I will never forget.

“To be welcomed in the way I was on my first day at Celtic Park is something I will always treasure. From that day I have given my all to the role of Celtic manager.

"I would like to sincerely thank the board at Celtic for giving me the opportunity to manage Celtic in the first place and for the support they have given me throughout my time as manager.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Peter, Ian, Dermot (major shareholder Desmond) and the rest of the Celtic board, and together we have done everything we could to bring success to our supporters.

“I want to make a special mention to the Celtic players. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and I want to thank them all for the commitment and positivity they gave to my coaching philosophy each and every day. Every one of them will be a friend for life.

“Celtic is in great hands for the future and I am sure the club is in a wonderful position to continue to dominate Scottish football and do well in Europe, I know that will be the aim of everyone at the club.

“Celtic will always be my club and I wish everyone connected to Celtic - the board of directors, the staff and, of course, the Celtic supporters - every success in the future."