ANDY LYNCH swept in an immaculate penalty-kick to present Hoops legend Jock Stein with his last trophy as Celtic manager.
The left-back slotted the only goal of the 1977 Scottish Cup Final behind Rangers keeper Stewart Kennedy after Derek Johnstone had handled a Johannes Edvaldsson header on the line.
Lynch’s effort – low to the goalie’s left – won Stein his 25th piece of major silverware in his glittering career as Parkhead boss.
Now the Hampden hero from 40 years ago – now 66 – believes current gaffer Brendan Rodgers can follow in Big Jock’s giant footsteps.
The Irishman, in his debut season, has already guided the team to their sixth successive Premier League crown and a League Cup triumph over Aberdeen earlier in the campaign.
Lynch concedes Rodgers may never come close to matching the iconic Stein’s tally, but, after signing a new four-year contract earlier this month, he stands on the brink of greatness.
If the champions overcome the Ibrox outfit in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday, they will be in line for only the fourth treble in club history and the first since Martin O’Neill’s side completed a silverware clean sweep in 2001.
O’Neill won seven trophies at Parkhead, one fewer than Billy McNeill achieved over two spells, but one more than Gordon Strachan and two more than the five secured by Jimmy McGrory and Neil Lennon.
Lynch said: “If Brendan goes on to achieve 10 in a row, it would be unsurpassed and mark him out as one of the greatest Celtic managers in history. It would be a tremendous legacy to leave.
“Many Celtic managers since Jock have done a terrific job and, while Brendan is clearly an authoritative leader, he’s not conventional.
“He has the potential to eclipse the achievements of Billy and Martin and make the most significant impact on the club since the days of Stein.
“I’m not sure he’s at Celtic to build a dynasty in the style of Big Jock, but he’s certainly at the club for the next few seasons to continue their domestic dominance as well as make a mark at Champions League level.
“Celtic could sweep up in Scottish football for seasons to come and with the addition of two or three top-quality operators, especially in midfield, they have the potential under Rodgers to compete more regularly in the last 16 of the Champions League.
“They must improve on their poor record away from home at that level, but with the right level of investment and Rodgers’ shrewd management, he can build a successful team to compete at home and abroad.”
Andy Lynch’s biography Hoops Stars and Stripes is available on www.cqnbookstore.com – order today and you will receive a signed copy!
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