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EX-HERO’S ‘BIG MOTIVATION’ TO KO HOOPS

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CRAIG GORDON was in the Celtic squad when Neil Lennon’s men faced Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final on May 25 last year.

On that occasion, the veteran goalkeeper had to be satisfied with a place on the substitutes’ bench with Scott Bain in the No.1 position as the Hoops overcame the Edinburgh club 2-1 with a second-half salvo from Odsonne Edouard.

On Sunday, though, Gordon will be doing his utmost to pile misery on his old team when he lines up for the Tynecastle side in the delayed Scottish Cup Final at Hampden where the Parkhead club are aiming for a historic quadruple treble.

The Scotland international shotstopper, who will celebrate his 38th birthday on Hogmanay, played in the kick off to the the previous three successes when a late strike from Tom Rogic downed Aberdeen 2-1 to commence the first treble under Brendan Rodgers in May 2017.

Gordon kept a clean sheet the following year as goals from Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham beat Motherwell 2-0 in the silverware showdown before making way for Bain when the treble treble was achieved.

However, the towering netminder quit the Hoops after six years when he rejected a reduced contract extension to return to Hearts in the summer while Celtic paid £4.5million for Vasilis Barkas who is unlikely to start at Hampden with Conor Hazard, almost 16 years younger than Gordon, poised to make his third first-team appearance.

The experienced last line of defence was superb as he helped the Championship team beat city rivals Hibs in the semi-final and he fully intends to make life difficult for his old team-mates this time out.

Boss Robbie Neilson, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Craig made a big decision to leave Celtic and come to ourselves in the Championship.

“The first thing was to try and play week in, week out and try to get himself in the Scotland squad. So, he’s managed to do that.

“And then to get an opportunity to play in a Cup Final against the guys who have just let you go is a big motivation for him. So, we need to help him make sure he gets a result.”

Neilson added: “He’s been great since day one. As a back four, there is nothing better than having a guy like that behind you.

“He is very vocal and he organises behind you. If he is shouting for it, he is going to come and claim it. The defence has done very well this season and he has been one of the key aspects of that.”

Odsonne Edouard and Co, however, will be aiming to have the Final say at the weekend.

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