JAMES FORREST revealed the tragic news of former Celtic midfielder Liam Miller’s death spurred him to his first-ever hat-trick.
The winger was unstoppable as he fired in a treble in the Hoops’ 3-2 victory over Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup-tie at Parkhead yesterday.
But the occasion was tinged with sadness by the ex-Republic of Ireland star’s passing from cancer at the age of 36 on Friday night.
A minute’s silence was observed before kick-off and the players wore black armbands in tribute.
Forrest said: “We heard the news in the morning and it was terrible.
“I was coming through when he was in the first team. When you are a young boy, you look up to the ones who are playing.
“It is a sad day for the family.”
Forrest grabbed his first career threesome as the holders edged their way into the last eight of the competition in an encounter that was made to look much harder than it needed to be.
Brendan Rodgers was relieved at the end after the battling Jags netted through Conor Sammon with six minutes still to play. Kris Doolan had scored the first with both goals coming from dreadful errors by Jozo Simunovic.
But the Hoops gaffer admitted the victory was slightly overshadowed by the death of the club’s former player.
He said: “It was a real sad moment when we got the message through at the hotel. Liam was so young, just 36. Lot of Irish boys dream of coming across and playing for Celtic. He did that and had a fantastic career.
“To lose your life at such an age, and to leave a young family behind, is so sad.
“The club paid a great tribute to him out there and he’ll always be in the memory of everyone here at Celtic.”