BRENDAN RODGERS picked up where he left off with a victory at Parkhead in a game in which five goals were scored.
Four and a half years ago, the Irishman bowed out with a 4-1 league triumph over Motherwell in the east end of Glasgow on February 24 2019.
Two days later, his seven successive domestic trophy sequence came to an abrupt halt as Rodgers left for Leicester City.
The 50-year-old gaffer is back in place following the equally-sudden exit of Ange Postecoglou following his phenomenal two-year stint in charge.
WE’RE BEHIND YOU…Brendan Rodgers with the celebrating Celtic fans after the 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Rodgers watched from the sidelines as the torrential rain cascaded from the leaden skies over Paradise as the Hoops beat a talented Athletic Bilbao side 3-2 in a rousing second-half of the well-merited testimonial match for James Forrest, an unassuming hero of recent successes.
Goals from Reo Hatate and Alexandro Bernabei wiped out breathtaking strikes from Unai Gomez, inside two minutes, and Iker Munian, just 18 seconds after the Japanese midfielder’s leveller.
It took a calm and measured effort from the composed David Turnbull, who had assumed the captain’s armband after Forrest had made his 49th minute departure to ringing and worthy applause from the thousands in the audience.
Rodgers is under no illusion of what lies ahead of him following his agreement of a three-year deal in mid-June, a decision he made while scrapping a planned 12-month family sabbatical from football.
The comeback manager utilised 22 players against solid La Liga opponents as he prepared for his first taste of competitive action on Flag Day in Paradise on Saturday when Ross County visit for the Premiership kick-off.
BACK IN THE OLD ROUTINE…Brendan Rodgers and John Kennedy shake hands after another Celtic victory.
He made 10 changes at the interval before Liel Abada came on four minutes into the second-half as he took over from man-of-the-moment Forrest.
Reflecting on his return, Rodgers said: “It’s amazing, it feels like home. I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to manage some fantastic clubs, but nothing gives the feeling like being back here with people I would regard as family and just being in the arena here.
“So, I’m looking forward to it and I’m going to relish every second of it. But I think going away made me realise what I had and I was never sure if I would have that again.
“To be able to have the chance to have that again with the players, that staff and the supporters, with that I need to win and I need to prove myself again.”
Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “My priority is to make a team here and continue with the standards that have been set over the last decade or so.
“It’s important we’re all together to achieve that.
“The Celtic support are amazing and what makes this club is that they get behind the manager.”