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FIVE YEARS AGO – THE BIRTH OF THE INVINCIBLES

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FIVE years ago today, Brendan Rodgers was introduced to the Celtic fans as the club’s new manager.

The intruction of the Irishman as Ronny Deila’s successor kicked off an extraordinary journey that saw the club reach immortality status as they powered unbeaten through the three domestic competitions as Invincibles.

It was a remarkable campaign that climaxed at Hampden in a dramatic Scottish Cup grande finale on May 27 2017.

Author Alex Gordon looks back at an eventful afternoon at the national stadium in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’ , to recall that breathtaking occasion.

Alex, veteran of fifteen Celtic books, writes: Celtic would bring down the season on a momentous season with a Scottish Cup Final meeting with Aberdeen at Hampden on May 27.

Brendan Rodgers was standing drenched on the Hampden touchline while his all-conquering players cavorted on the pitch behind him to the strains of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. A goal deep in stoppage time by Tom Rogic had just beaten Aberdeen to give Celtic the Scottish Cup to complete the historic treble.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’.

Rodgers, in his first season, had led the club to an unprecedented forty-seven game unbeaten sequence against Scottish opposition – something never achieved by any team before his Invincibles.

The TV interviewer stated: “This club have fallen in love with you and you have fallen in love with this club.” Rodgers practically snapped: “No! I was born into Celtic. I was born into a Celtic family. There’s been no growing into this club. There has only been pride and it’s a huge privilege to manage Celtic. I have always wanted to manage Celtic. I’m here now and I just think it is the right time for everyone, myself and the club.”

As the rain still swirled around the national stadium, Rodgers added: “We’ve created an identity this season and, hopefully, we can build on that and improve over the coming years. What we have achieved has been really spectacular.” Rodgers also described the “special feeling” of emulating Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill after leading Celtic to the fourth treble in their history.

“Maybe the stars were aligned this year,” he smiled. “I remember the centenary year for Celtic and there’s just a feeling about this season. But don’t get me wrong, we’ve had to earn it. We’ve worked hard. It’s a huge honour. I think what the players have achieved and you see how difficult it is, the great history of this club and the great managers and players who have been here before me.

“To have achieved that in the first season, along with everything else that we’ve done is very humbling. I still get a wee bit of a funny feeling, it doesn’t sit quite right with me. Jock was a real pioneer in leading the club where they wanted to go. Martin did an incredible job here.”

A dramatic 2016/17 campaign was edging to a shuddering climax with Celtic and Aberdeen locked at 1-1 in the Scottish Cup Final on a day of crazy changeable weather conditions in Mount Florida on the Saturday afternoon of May 27, 2017. The champions had been rocked when the Pittodrie outfit had taken the lead through an effort from Jonny Hayes, but, thankfully, Stuart Armstrong had the perfect response with the leveller just over a minute later, a low left-foot drive from the edge of the box that whipped beyond the diving Joe Lewis.

Two minutes into stoppage time, the scoreline hadn’t changed – until a moment of magic from the man known as the Wizard of Oz, Tom Rogic. No danger threatened as he picked up a pass from Stuart Armstrong and ambled forward. There was a spurt of acceleration to leave Anthony O’Connor in his slipstream. Menacingly, Rogic carried into the penalty area, a shimmy one way and then another bamboozled Andy Considine before the Aussie playmaker spotted a space between the keeper and his near post. With a nonchalant sweep of his right foot he tucked the ball sweetly into the net.

Just over a minute later, referee Bobby Madden blew his whistle for time-up and the Scottish Cup was on its way to the east end of Glasgow to keep the Premiership and the League Cup company in the Celtic Park trophy cabinet.

Author Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’, is on sale now. PLUS! We are giving away FREE a copy of ‘SEVILLE: The Celtic Movement’, priced at £18.99, with every copy.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’.

Please hurry – the offer is limited to while stocks last.

 

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