The Welsh striker looked set to join the Gers from Wimbledon until the move collapsed over issues around his physical condition.
“I failed a medical at Rangers in 2000, then ultimately went on to play for Celtic,” Hartson explains in the new issue of FourFourTwo - which you can order here.
“At that particular time I was playing for Wales and Dick Advocaat was Rangers’ manager, so it was their loss. They never got me and it was Celtic’s gain.”
Hartson went on to have huge success for the Gers’ city rivals, who he joined the following year.
The striker won three league titles, two Scottish Cups and the League Cup, as well as being a part of the side that reached the UEFA Cup final under Martin O’Neill in 2003.
Looking back on the ferocious Old Firm derbies he featured in for Celtic, Hartson was in no doubt about his standout memory.
“My nine goals!” he laughs.
“To score the winner in consecutive league derbies was very special, in arguably one of the biggest games in the world – and one of the most watched games , in terms of the countries it’s actually shown in.
“It’s such a massive club, so to make Celtic supporters happy around the world – they’re great memories.”
Hartson’s rapport with the Celtic fans has continued long beyond his departure from the club in 2006, and he now has the club crest tattooed on his arm.
“I’ve had a few tattoos done – I’m a Swansea fan but never got to play for them during my career,” he said.
“When I came out of hospital, I really wanted to get the Celtic emblem on my arm , just so I can take it to my grave with me.
“The support I received from the Celtic family was unbelievable. It definitely helped me with my cancer battle.
“It gave me an enormous lift in terms of my health – the letters, the flowers, the fan mail – so I wanted to wear the badge on my shoulder forever.”
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