The downtime between the end of Celtic's traditional league and cup double-winning campaign and the return of football this year was shorter than normal.

On this side of the globe, Euro 2024 has kept us occupied – and while Scotland exited the tournament on the final day of their group stage trail, there is still plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks on the international stage.

On the other side of the Atlantic, this year's Copa America is being hosted by the USA for the second time in the tournament's history. Representation from Glasgow's green and white over there comes in the shape of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston, with the Canadian full-back having already locked horns with Lionel Messi during a 2-0 defeat to Argentina.

For Scotland, Callum McGregor faced off once more against former Real Madrid midfielder Tony Kroos in Group A of the Euros, while 38-year-old Luka Modric's swansong for Croatia wasn't quite the fairytale pundits such as Wayne Rooney may have hoped for going in.

Back to Celtic, and Messi, Modric, Kross and Rooney are just some of the current and former elite players who've played under the Paradise lights in European competition – and have come away full of praise for the ferocious atmosphere generated by the fans in the stands.

To this end, here are some of football's greatest-ever players hailing Celtic's home ground situated in the heart of Glasgow's east end.

Messi to Modric and more: the greats who've praised Paradise

Luka Modric

Real Madrid

"Special atmosphere. Thank you Celtic Park."

Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United

"The Celtic fans are incredible. It is always great to play there."

Lionel Messi


"Celtic Park is the best atmosphere in Europe and we all want to experience that again."

Tony Kroos

Real Madrid

"The Champions League anthem started, and I thought the stadium was going to collapse. Unbelievable, I had never experienced anything like that."

Paulo Maldini

AC Milan

"Every professional footballer should seek to play at least one game at Celtic Park, I have never felt anything like it."

Xavi Hernandez


"The atmosphere generated by the fans in Celtic’s stadium for our visit was the most impressive I’ve ever witnessed."

Andres Iniesta


"The atmosphere is one of the best in the world. I was fortunate to play there several times and it was always so intense. It was an honour to play amid such incredible noise."

Gianluigi Buffon


 "I want to experience the electricity at Celtic Park again."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic


"I have played in the biggest games in world football. But I have never experienced an atmosphere like I did at Celtic Park."

Ilkay Gundogan

Manchester City

"Champions League game with Man City at Celtic. Still get goosebumps when I think about it."

Gerard Pique


"Atmosphere at Celtic Park is the best in Europe."

Nemanja Vidic

Manchester United

“Every game I have played in Turkey stands out for passion created by the fans – but the best has been at Celtic Park."

Michael Owen


"The best atmosphere I ever played in was at Celtic Park in the Uefa Cup for Liverpool."

Jamie Carragher

As a pundit

"I fulfilled a long-standing ambition when I sat in the stands to watch Celtic play a European game at Parkhead... The experience against Ajax did not disappoint and it was one of the best atmospheres I have ever experienced."

Samuel Eto'o


"This place makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, there is nowhere like it in football, and I can see how the people love to play here and speak so highly of it."

Carles Puyol


"Celtic supporters are spectacular - they are the best."

Clarence Seedorf

AC Milan

"Celtic are always a credit, they play with their hearts."

Oliver Kahn

Bayern Munich

"The atmosphere here tonight was unbelievable and it's an honour to play in such an arena."

Alex Ferguson

Manchester United

"Anyone going to Celtic Park now is saying: 'You've got to beat that atmosphere."