The Hamilton boss was assistant to John Hughes at Inverness Caley Thistle when the skinny kid forced his way into the team.
Christie started to make his mark in the Caley Thistle side towards the end of the 2013/14 season, by the time that the 2015/16 season kicked off he was on his way to Celtic although that started off with a return loan deal to the Highland side.
Two loan stints at Aberdeen followed but it was an injury to Olivier Ntcham in last season’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts that provided him with the opening that saw him kick the door down and establish himself as a fixture in the first team.
Nothing in the last year has come as a surprise to Rice as he told The Sun ‘looking forward’ to Saturday’s match.
Ryan is a fantastic footballer. When I first went to Inverness, John Hughes said to me, ‘You need to see this kid we’ve got’, and as soon as I saw him in the first training session I just knew the kid was special.
He lives for football. It means everything to him. He’s a terrific talent and he wants to improve and get better and better. What you see on a Saturday from Ryan is what you see every day in training. He’s last off the training field, he practises free-kicks, he practises crossing and shooting.
He got his deserved move to Celtic and it’s very difficult to break into their team but he went to Aberdeen on loan and they will say how well he did for them. Now he has kicked on to a different level. I watched him in the European tie against AIK and I couldn’t believe what I was watching. He was tremendous.
Ryan has been one of Celtic’s best players this season. He’s got a great knack of scoring goals and some of them have been outstanding. He’s playing with a great deal of confidence and he’s a real danger to the opposition.
Christie returns to training with Celtic today on the back of two defeats for Scotland in which he was one of the few players to emerge with some credit.