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EDOUARD: BIRTHDAY BOY – AND HISTORY BHOY

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ODSONNE EDOUARD celebrates his 23rd birthday today in self-isolation.

The Celtic striker is one of 13 players – plus boss Neil Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy – who has been ordered into a 10-day quarantine following Christopher Jullien’s positive Covid-19 test.

Edouard, along with team-mates such as skipper Scott Brown, Kristoffer Ajer, Leigh Griffiths and Ryan Christie, was forced to stay away from Parkhead on Monday night as Gavin Strachan’s patched-up side drew 1-1 with Hibs where it took a stoppage-time equaliser from Kevin Nisbet to nullify David Turnbull’s superb free-kick strike.

The Frenchman, who was a teenager when he arrived at the club on his original loan deal from Paris Saint-Germain before his £9million switch the following season, will watch in silence as his colleagues go into action against Livingston this afternoon in their quest for a crucial win and three much-needed points.

Changed days from an afternoon at Hampden when Edouard became a History Bhoy.

Author Alex Gordon tells the story in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One,’ which was published recently.

Alex, who has penned fifteen books on the Parkhead club, reviewed Edouard’s day in the spotlight. Here is an edited extract from the chapter.

THE memorable date of May 25 2019 – the fifty-second anniversary of the European Cup victory – arrived and with it the alluring promise of the club’s unprecedented ninth consecutive trophy in domestic competition. A feat many shrewd football judges would have hitherto insisted was an impossibility.

Mistakes can be rectified over the marathon that is the league programme, but one freak bounce of the ball or an individual error or a dubious refereeing decision will often lead to oblivion in knock-out competitions.

HAIL THE HAMPDEN HERO…Odsonne Edouard with the Scottish Cup after his two-goal salvo against Hearts on May 25 2019.

Odsonne Edouard had already made Celtic history as the club’s most expensive player at £9million, so it was somehow appropriate the French personality was the man who delivered even more to the club’s extraordinary folklore in the 2-1 win over Hearts as the curtain came down on a tumultuous, mercurial and, ultimately, satisfying and successful campaign. With the team toiling and trailing 1-0 to a Ryan Edwards strike, it was the extraordinarily-gifted frontman who stepped up to fire the club to a phenomenal treble treble.

Edouard took centre stage in the club’s annals of fame when he strode onto a pass from Jonny Hayes in the sixty-first minute and had Christophe Berra chasing back and Bobby Zlamal racing from his line in an effort to bail out his defence. The talented striker weaved to his left as the keeper went down to make contact and referee Willie Collum had no hesitation in awarding a penalty-kick.

Edouard took a couple of steps back as the Celtic fans in the Hampden crowd held their collective breath. He then ambled forward in nonchalant fashion before thumping the ball low to the goalie’s right hand and in at the post.

It was the lifeline a Hoops outfit required urgently on a day when they struggled to take control. But they deserve the utmost credit for coming back so quickly and so positively after the loss of a dreadful goal in the fifty-third minute. The defence failed to deal with a simple throw-in on the left when Arnauld Djoum lost James Forrest before the ball fell to Sean Clare who back-heeled it in front of the unmarked Edwards who could hardly believe the acres he had been afforded as he rattled a shot between the legs of Scott Bain.

SIGN OF THE TIMES…the scoreboard tells its own story after Odsonne Edouard’s winner with Scott Sinclair and James Forrest joining in.

It had also been a resounding wake-up call for Celtic who had failed to spark in a fairly tedious opening forty-five minutes.

In the eighty-second minute, with the destination of the trophy in the balance, Mikael Lustig rose and powerfully headed a pass forward. It fell perfectly for the aware Edouard with the Hearts defensive double-act of Christophe Berra and John Souttar split for the only time in the game.

The raider took the ball in his stride in an instant, raced toward the danger zone, enticed Zlamal from his line and, with the greatest of ease, stroked the ball over the keeper’s right shoulder and into the inviting net.

Five minutes were added on as nerve ends stretched to snapping point before the referee eventually blew for full-time. The Celtic players stood at Hampden for a moment as it dawned on them what they had achieved. A clearly-emotional Lennon dropped to his knees on the touchline.

The Celtic supporters split the skies above Mount Florida with their cries of sheer delight.

Alex Gordon recalls the Hampden victory in his tribute book, ’50 Flags Plus One’. The dramatic campaign is told with insider knowledge by the former national newspaper sports editor and his latest publication is acclaimed by club legend and Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld as “a truly unique tribute to Celtic”.

Hoops great John Hughes, the club’s seventh-highest scorer with 189 goals, acknowledged: “It’s a journey of several lifetimes.”

* ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’ celebrates the club’s remarkable fifty-one league championships in their glorious history. To order a copy – and get a book, ‘SEVILLE: The Celtic Movement,‘ rrp £18.99p ABSOLUTELY FREEclick here.

 

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