ANGE POSTECOGLOU is not interested in consolation prizes.

The Celtic boss will be at Hampden this afternoon and his sole interest is getting his hands on the Viaplay League Cup trophy once the dust has settled on the Final confrontation against Michael Beale’s Ibrox outfit.

Second best is nowhere for the 57-year-old gaffer who lifted the Premiership title in his debut campaign just a year after taking over as the long-term successor to Neil Lennon.

Postecoglou inherited a shambles after the Hoops’ first trophyless term in 11 years that had seen their bid for the historic tenth successive crown obliterated around the turn of the year as they eventually collapsed over the line 25 points adrift of pole position.

UP FOR THE CUP…Ange Postecoglou holds aloft the League Cup – his first piece of silverware as Celtic manager.

A measure of the boss’ dedication to success can be gauged in a tale from April following the extra-time own goal from the unfortunate Carl Starfelt ended the team’s triple bid.

Postecoglou said: “When I lost the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden last year, my three best friends and their wives were over from Australia.

“My wife had dinner booked that night and I didn’t turn up. They’d come halfway round the world and my wife had to entertain them.

“It was pretty childish. But they understood and it was fine.

“I don’t take losing well.”

Postecoglou admits he has been obsessed with winning for as long as he can remember. There has been a relentless desire to succeed from his early days as a full-back Down Under, to his first management post at South Melbourne, the World Cup Finals as his country’s chief, J-League title-winning stint at Yokohama F Marinos and now at Celtic.

He said: “It’s just the way I am as a person. I love winning. I’m obviously not a fan of losing.

“It’s the winning that drives me more than the fear of losing.

HAMPDEN ROCKET MEN…Ange Postecoglou and his jubilant Celtic players celebrate their 2-1 win over Hibs.

“I don’t take defeats well, but I just enjoy winning. I enjoy what that does to people, to groups that achieve it.

“I enjoy building teams, I love that process. But it’s got to be building to an end goal. And that’s to win things.

“As much as my passion is the team playing a certain way, the reason I am passionate about that is that I love success. It has brought me a lot of success and that’s why I continue to coach the way I do and play the way I do.

“Because I want to keep winning things.”

Postecoglou, speaking to The Herald, continued: “Whilst others are chasing just the win, I’m chasing more than that.

“I’m chasing a win playing a certain way. When that’s your driver you are never going to stand still or bask in the glory of a victory.

“You are always going to go for the next one with a better performance.

THE SIGNS ARE GOOD…Kyogo Furuhashi gets the message after his two-goal display in the League Cup triumph.

“If you want to achieve or stay in the game for a long time that’s the point of difference.

“Because there isn’t a manager out there who doesn’t want to win a game of football.

“If you’re going to last in this game it’s got to be something more than that that drives you.”

Reflecting on his early days in charge and the crusade so far, the Greek-Australian coach added: “It’s fair to say we had a rough start early doors in Europe and in the league.

“By the time the Cup Final [against Hibs]came round we had sort of steadied the ship in the league.

“Even at that stage people were supportive. The supporters understood that we weren’t quite there, but they could see the direction in which we were going.

“The players were beginning to embrace the way we wanted to play, too, but there’s no doubt winning something so early accelerates that process.

SUNSHINE BHOY…Ange Postecoglou with the Premiership silverware after the 6-0 win over Motherwell at Parkhead on a glorious May day.

“Particularly in terms of belief within the players and the staff. We were in the embryonic stages of our development, but if we could win something this early on the path then there’s a good chance we can have success.

“I thought it was important because if we hadn’t then any hiccup along the way might have had stronger consequences.

“We had a couple of small blips after that, but the fact we had won something accelerated the while thing.”

Two goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, one of Postecoglou’s first signings for the club at £4.6million from Vissel Kobe in July 2021, gave Celtic the League Cup after a comeback triumph over Hibs.

That momentum carried the team all the way to their tenth championship in 11 years as they completely turned around the previous season’s wretched performance.

Now it’s on to Hampden this afternoon.

And Postecoglou has no intention of going home with a runners-up medal.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and the best action images from Celtic v Rangers this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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