AIK Stockholm boss Rikard Norling admits he felt it would have been wrong to ask Johan Mjallby for information about Celtic ahead of their Europa League qualifier.
The Swedish side take on the Hoops at Parkhead on Thursday evening the first leg of their tie, with the winners heading for the group stages of Europe’s secondary competition. Mjallby won five league titles, two with AIK and three with Celtic, during his career.
He grew up with Norling and played alongside the current AIK boss for a number of years. He was also a teammate of current Celtic boss Neil Lennon when they starred under Martin O’Neill in Glasgow and returned as assistant manager to Lennon during his first stint as manager of the Bhoys.
Norling and Mjallby remain close friends but, given his relationship with both clubs, the AIK boss wasn’t willing to betray that friendship by seeking inside information ahead of the trip to Scotland. “We’ve been playing football together since we were three years old,” said the AIK boss.
“We played in the same youth team, school team and we were by each other’s side until we graduated. I know him so well. “I have such a respect for Johan and I know how much he cares for Celtic and AIK.
“He cares so much for both clubs and it would be disrespectful for our friendship to go too deep. I would then be asking him to do something that a friend just doesn’t do. “Johan loves both clubs in equal measure – I know he does.”
Norling has tasted success against Scottish opposition before, having led former club Malmo to victories over both Rangers and Hibernian in European action. Celtic are 1.40 to win the first leg in Glasgow, with AIK priced at 7.00 and the draw 4.50.