JAMES FORREST shared the spotlight on his special evening in the east end of Glasgow with fans, family, friends and team-mates.
The evergreen Celt was honoured with a testimonial match against Athletic Bilbao at Parkhead last night which saw Brendan Rodgers’ side fight back twice to win 3-2 with excellent strikes from Reo Hatate, Alexandro Bernabei and David Turnbull.
Brendan Rodgers utilised 22 players during a downpour in Paradise with Liel Abada replacing the main man in the 49th minute.
HAIL, HAIL, THE GANG’S ALL HERE…James Forrest accepts the applause of his team-mates and the fans at the end of his special evening in Paradise.
The returning Hoops boss will have frowned as he witnessed a fairly lethargic first-half display from his players who faced an uphill struggle inside two minutes following an unerring 25-yard drilled effort from Unai Gomez that zipped low past the stranded Benji Siegrist.
And the Swiss keeper, who made way for Scott Bain in the second-half while Joe Hart remained on the bench, was helpless again when Iker Muniain flashed in a second after capitalising on a defensive lapse from Tomoki Iwata.
Forrest received the well-merited applause of the thousands who turned out to pay tribute to his service to the club which has seen him collect 22 honours and score over 100 goals in 467 appearances since his debut in May 2010.
The Scotland international winger admitted: “The last couple of days I was quite nervous and I’m not usually like that for any game.
“Actually getting to the stadium made me feel so much better and just being amongst the boys and seeing family and friends was incredible.
THANK YOU…James Forrest acknowledges the Celtic supporters at the conclusion of his testimonial match.
“Right from the start, from getting to the stadium, I just really enjoyed it.
“Everyone is saying it’s my night, but it’s the effort my family have had to put in, which is incredible throughout the years.
“I couldn’t have done it without them and everyone else really close to me.
“I feel it’s everyone’s night – the staff, the players, the fans, I can’t do it without everyone and I’m delighted with how the night went.”
Forrest, speaking to Celtic TV, added: “I came off when we were 2-1 down, but the second-half team did really well and everything about the occasion I thoroughly enjoyed.
“It’s amazing, I’ve really enjoyed pre-season, we were away for a good couple of weeks.
“I’m 32, but I’m still really enjoying it. It’s all I know and it’s a great place to be and I want to keep doing as much as I can for the club.”