Christopher Jullien says he had the last laugh after refusing to take Alfredo Morelos’ bait during Celtic’s Old Firm triumph at Ibrox.
The Rangers frontman appeared to be looking for a reaction from the Hoops defender when he trod on his foot late on during the season’s opening derby clash.
But Jullien did not react as he kept his head to help steer Neil Lennon’s side to a precious three points at the home of their bitter rivals.
Gers skipper James Tavernier said before the game he expected the Hoops would look to provoke the Colombian after last season’s well-documented disciplinary problems.
However, it seemed to be Morelos engaging in the dark arts as he clashed with the £7million signing from Toulouse as they waited for a free-kick to be delivered.
Frenchman Jullien – named man of the match after his side’s 2-0 win – said: “That’s the game. It happens in every sport, you know, trash talk. Basketball, football, American football – it’s everywhere.
“It’s part of the game. If it’s a strength for him, I don’t know. I don’t know him so much.
“We talked about it before the game and I was told he was sometimes a bit like that.
“I told him to his face ‘I like that so keep going’. If we have a clean sheet then I did my job, so it’s all good.”
Jullien says Sunday’s victory was the perfect response to the critics who have been lining up to have a pop at Lennon’s team since they crashed out of the Champions League to Romanian outfit Cluj.
But he warned those who were quick to write off the Parkhead side that they will only continue to improve as the season goes on.
He said: “We judge big teams and champions when they stand up after a fall.
“After that game (against Cluj), we were devastated because it was a goal of the club and players (to reach the Champions League).
“It was just a mistake. We are human – but the reaction we’ve shown was really important.
“We know we have talent and good players but we fought after that and I’m really happy with the team’s behaviour after (Cluj).
“We didn’t have so much talk on what was being said outside of the field. We were just focused on the game and the victory was a good answer after all the effort we showed.
“We still have a lot of work to do and so far we’re only one month in. We are good but I’m sure we can be better.”
Lennon was forced to name a makeshift back four short on derby experience after Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic failed fitness tests.
But his defence – and Jullien in particular – stood up to the test amid the fevered atmosphere at Ibrox.
Jullien was well aware of what the game meant to the Hoops faithful but believes keeping calm amid the crazed surroundings was key to his display.
He said: “I got a feel for what the game meant when I was out in the city.
“In the week before the game a lot of people came to me when I was with my family and had a lot of talk about Sunday’s match.
“They kept talking about that match but I was saying ‘we have a European game (with AIK) before’.
“However, everyone was really focused on Sunday’s game and I understand it’s a big thing here.
“But I just treated the match mentally like any game knowing the atmosphere would be a little more crazy.”
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