Chesterfield striker gives Old Firm insight eight years after grabbing Celtic winner against Rangers

GLASGOW. IBROX STADIUM 12.30 PM KICK OFF''RANGERS V CELTIC.''   rangers lee mcculloch wins the ball in the air from marc-antoine fortune'     PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
GLASGOW. IBROX STADIUM 12.30 PM KICK OFF''RANGERS V CELTIC.'' rangers lee mcculloch wins the ball in the air from marc-antoine fortune' PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
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Marc-Antoine Fortune might wear blue on a Saturday afternoon but he’s still partial to green and white.

Ahead of the season’s first Old Firm derby in Glasgow on Sunday, the Chesterfield striker has spoken of his experiences of a ‘special game.’

Chesterfield's Marc-Antoine Fortun� celebrates scoring hisses second equaliser to make the score 2-2: Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Vanarama National League match Salford City -V- Chesterfield at Peninsula Stadium, Salford, Greater Manchester, England copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229

Chesterfield's Marc-Antoine Fortun� celebrates scoring hisses second equaliser to make the score 2-2: Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com, Football: Vanarama National League match Salford City -V- Chesterfield at Peninsula Stadium, Salford, Greater Manchester, England copyright picture Howard Roe 07973 739229

Fortune played for Celtic in three games against bitter rivals Rangers in the 2009/10 season.

The 37-year-old, who tasted victory, a draw and defeat in those matches, became aware of the fixture’s significance almost immediately after signing in a deal that cost the Bhoys £3.8m.

Prior to his move to Celtic Park, he didn’t realise what it meant to fans of both clubs.

“When you’re outside Scotland you don’t really feel it,” he said.

“It’s when you sign.

“The week before the manager, the staff are telling you that you have to stay in your house, not go into the city.

“You understand it’s something big.

“It’s the first thing people talked to me about, the Old Firm.”

A veteran of 19 years, Fortune is now playing for his 13th club and has experienced football in France, England, Scotland and Holland.

Nothing has come close to the rivalry he experienced in Glasgow, however.

“When I was in France for my first professional contact I played for Lille.

“There was an important game against Lens, it’s like 15 minutes away from Lille.

“That was a big derby and a big atmosphere, but nothing compared to Celtic and Rangers.

“Glasgow is one city divided by two teams, it’s really something different.”

Fortune didn’t feature in that season’s first meeting of the clubs, a 2-1 defeat at Ibrox.

“The first one I was injured and couldn’t play so I was watching from the stand,” he said.

“I could already feel the atmosphere, of course I wanted to be on the pitch.

“It wasn’t a great one because we lost.”

He made his Old Firm derby on 3rd January 2010, a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park that saw both sides score in a two minute spell towards the end of the game.

The next encounter at Ibrox was a game that saw Fortune booked and Scott Brown sent off before Maurice Edu won it for Rangers in the 90th minute.

It was his third outing against the Gers that stands out in his mind, however.

The penultimate game of the season, it went Celtic’s way on their own turf.

Fortune found the net on two occasions in that game, the first of which a header that was disallowed for a foul on keeper Allan McGregor – a decision Fortune strongly disagreed with.

The second one saw him tower above Steven Smith in first half stoppage time to head home what turned out to be the winner.

“The first one I played was was great, I really enjoyed it, even if we didn’t win, I don’t remember the score,” he said.

“I only really remember the third one when I scored, that was a great feeling.

“It’s something that will be in your mind for the rest of your life.”

The goal is something Celtic fans didn’t allow him to forget in years to come.

“Even after, when I came back to England, when I was in an airport and there was a Celtic fan there, they would talk to me about the goal.

“That was something really important for them.

“When you score in that game you know you will be in the heart of the Celtic fans for a long time.”

Although Sunday’s meeting of the two sides at Celtic Park will only be attended by 800 Rangers fans, it’s sure to be a cauldron of noise and a fiery atmosphere.

Fortune, who comes across as a particularly relaxed character off the pitch, says the players have a duty to remain composed on derby day.

“I say we are professionals.

“We know it’s a special game, it’s different, but you have to stay calm and do your job.

“Even if, outside it’s different, there’s more heart, more passion, you have to stay exactly the same, keep doing the right thing and not silly stuff to get a red card and get out of the game.”

There’s no prizes for guessing who Fortune believes will come out on top in this weekend’s game.

And he’ll be an interested spectator, as he has remained for the eight years since he left Scotland.

“When you’ve been at Celtic you always keep looking what’s happening.

“After I left they had maybe two years when it was difficult and then they won five or six titles in a row.

“Of course you still have an eye on it.”