Blinded by camera flashes and smuggled through the back door of the hospital hosting his medical, Stefan Johansen began to realise the environment he was about to try to settle into was no ordinary one.

The Norweigan hoped he was about to embark on the first date of an extended UK tour, but being treated like prime Paul McCartney wasn’t in the script.

Just 23, the midfielder had recently won the Norwegian title with Stromsgodset and was leaving his Eliteserien comfort zone with big dreams and stars in his eyes. Celtic Park would be his new stage and Johansen quickly found out during early rehearsals at Lennoxtown that the next few years of his life would be absolutely wild.

Brought in during the January transfer window in 2014, Celtic were unbeaten at the point of his arrival and comfortably stood 10 points ahead of closest challengers Aberdeen, who had assumed the role of Scrappy-Do while being held at arm’s length by Scooby as the big dogs pretty much cantered to the title.

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Johansen recalls: “I knew Celtic was a big club, there’s nothing new there, but it’s true that unless you grow up here then you don’t really understand until you experience it.

“I was ready to leave Stromsgodset, it had been three years and I won a title, so it was the right time for me to move on. You have to test yourself in bigger leagues and reach ambitions.

"My agent had spoken with a few clubs in Italy and Holland but when I knew Celtic were interested, I had a chat with my wife and we agreed Glasgow was the best option for me. It was a shock but straight away I knew I wouldn’t regret it.

“The quality at the club was from the top drawer. Scott Brown sat next to me in the dressing room and made me feel welcome, I car-shared with Virgil van Dijk and we became close friends, I got to know Nir Bitton well too and Mikael [Lustig] could communicate well with me. I made friends for life at Celtic.

Celtic Way: Johansen, Van Dijk and Bitton became good friends at CelticJohansen, Van Dijk and Bitton became good friends at Celtic

“In terms of Virgil’s quality, I knew after a week he was going to the very top. It was too easy for him in Scotland.”

The culture surrounding fandom - nay, obsession - wasn’t the only stark difference Johansen had to quickly come to terms with. We often hear players remarking on adjusting to the physicality when arriving in Scottish football, which wasn’t lost on Johansen, but he says Neil Lennon liked to dedicate a fair amount of emphasis to dead-ball scenarios.

“The way of training is different in Norway and there are different demands," Johansen said. "The first thing I noticed here was the set-pieces, Neil Lennon was very into that and how they can decide a game, telling us that if we play badly we can still win it with a set-piece.

“I also knew I was arriving into a winning culture, it was built into the walls at Lennoxtown and Celtic Park, it was unavoidable. There is no option but to win trophies and I wasn’t used to that.”

Celtic claimed the title as Johansen quickly became a mainstay in the side, making 16 appearances before the end of the season and scoring twice in routs over St Mirren and Partick Thistle. He’d slotted in seamlessly but the best was yet to come.

Season 2014-15 was Johansen’s Live Aid as he won PFA Player of the Year under the gaze of a familiar figure in new manager Ronny Deila, scoring nine goals and assisting eight times as the team’s main creative spark.

By then Johansen’s compatriot Deila had been given the reigns after Lennon’s tenure ended. The Norweigan pair shared more than just a nationality though. Both were instrumental as coach and playmaker for Stromsgodset’s title win the previous year. Just one of football’s funny twists of fate.

“I have a great relationship with Ronny and it was really nice when he came to Celtic,” continues Johansen. “I knew it would take some time for him to change things to the way he wanted because we’d worked together for a few years already. He won the league in both his seasons at Celtic but it tells its own story in Glasgow that that’s not enough. I felt we were unfortunate in the Champion’s League qualifiers too.

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“I was usually played ahead of Scott Brown and Nir Bitton and was able to contribute because we had so much possession and chances. It was a good year and we had some great games, I’ll always remember the Inter game in the Europa League, it’s the best atmosphere I’ve played in.

“The winning culture at Celtic can probably be summed up by us seeing that tie as a missed opportunity because the second leg was really close. We really thought we could beat anyone and it was amazing to go toe-to-toe with Inter, a huge European club."

An unfortunate anomaly in Johansen’s time at the club is probably the two derby matches he played in were at Hampden in the League and Scottish Cup semi-finals respectively. In the former, Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons sealed a 2-0 victory in the first derby game for nearly three years.

Celtic Way: Johansen says Rodgers respected his desire to leave CelticJohansen says Rodgers respected his desire to leave Celtic

“Everyone was speaking about that game about a month before it,” says Johansen. “Because Rangers were the league below us and we hadn’t played them, there was a huge build-up. It was easy to understand how much it meant to the club and the fans and it was a good victory.

"Everyone would agree, though, that it would have been better to experience it at Celtic Park or Ibrox. Hampden’s atmosphere was good but derby matches are better either home or away, all players said that and I wish I’d been able to experience it.”

Rangers’ absence from the top flight certainly gave Celtic a margin for more errors given the financial disparity between the club and whomever the nearest challengers turned out to be, as Johansen recalls: “If Rangers were in the league, it would have been closer, for sure.

"Aberdeen did well probably to compete with us that season but we knew if we remained professional we would win the league. We did that because we had a good group of players and did our jobs.”

Johansen’s first full season at the club was immediately followed by a more underwhelming one in which he scored only once and collated 16 yellow cards. It meant he didn’t leave Celtic in a blaze of glory after destroying all in his path two years in a row and it wasn’t an unpopular opinion at the time to accept the next leg of Johansen’s tour would be in Fulham. It’s something he struggles to explain.

“In football, there are ups and downs and I had one of those seasons," he said. "I really struggled to recreate what I’d done the previous year and found it hard to bounce back from performances.

"I spoke with Brendan [Rodgers] when he was appointed and he was very welcoming to me. I told him I felt it was time for me to take the next step in my career like I’d done with Stromsgodset before coming to Celtic, and he was very understanding with me.

"I love Celtic and had a great time in Glasgow, there are no hard feelings with the club and Brendan was great with my wishes.”