BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed he would take personal pride in leading Celtic back into the Champions League group stages.
The Hoops boss and his players are well prepared for tonight’s second leg of their play-off in Israel against Hapoel Be’er Sheva as they protect a 5-2 advantage from last week.
Now the five-in-a-row champions are only 90 minutes from mixing with Europe’s elite in Thursday’s draw in Monte Carlo.
Rodgers said: “To lead Celtic into the Champions League would be a huge honour and a great privilege.
“The managers before me I spoke to said the first qualifying campaign was very difficult for them. For us, we’ve put in an awful lot of work. We’ve got two hands on the prize, and a tight grip, as well.
“We just need to ensure that we maintain that grip.”
Celtic were defeated by Maribor and Malmo at the same stage in the past two seasons during Ronny Deila’s reign, but Rodgers pointed out: “If you analyse and look at a lot of our games, I think a very pleasing factor is that we’ve been scoring early goals.
“I said when I first came in that the hallmark of the team would be, hopefully, starting games very quickly and scoring goals.
“But we’ve also scored late goals, as well. If you think of the games where we’ve scored late in the first-half, late in the second-half, that shows that this is a team that is not perfect by any means, but has certainly got a resilience in it and a mentality to keep going.
“Whatever comes up in games, to have that ability to keep pushing. That’s been very, very pleasing and it’s something that the players have worked very hard to have as part of their make-up.
“If you want to be a really good side, that’s something that you need to have.”