THERE is always ferocious pressure on a team not to fail at the final hurdle in a Cup competition.
It’s the entire package. The battle to reach Hampden, the build-up to the grand occasion, the expectancy levels of the fans, the awesome strain to deliver and the determination not to let anyone down. No-one wants to be a runner-up.
And there are the dreams of a would-be hero on the biggest platform of all to take his chance and cement a place in the club’s folklore.
On December 8 2019, there was an additional onus on the Celtic players who prepared to face Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side, a club lost in a silverware wilderness for years, on a misty Sunday afternoon at a sell-out national stadium.
The Hoops went into the confrontation in the knowledge they had won NINE successive domestic trophies during a phenomenal and unprecdented sequence in Scottish football history, delivering a truly astounding treble treble, a landslide of honours into the Parkhead trophy room.
It’s in the history books now that Neil Lennon’s men rose once again to the occasion with a goal from Christopher Jullien to separate the winners from the also-rans.
It was a memorable moment and how the Celtic players enjoyed the magic of lifting the League Cup for the fourth successive campaign.
As ever, CQN‘s ace snappers were there to capture the aftermath of another joyous spectacle. Here is the pick of the pics.
REACH FOR THE SKY…Scott Brown holds aloft the newly-won trophy.
THREE CHEERS…Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and Kristoffer Ajer share the joy.
SAFE HANDS…Fraser Forster and Neil Lennon accept the acclaim.
FAN-TASTIC…the ecstatic Celtic players celebrate with the supporters at full-time: (left to right) Jeremie Frimpong, Mikey Johnston, Ryan Christie, Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and Kristoffer Ajer.
SILVERWARE SMILES…Callum McGregor with the spoils of war.
FRIMPONG THE FIRST…teenager Jeremie Frimpong holds the trophy, his breakthrough medal success.
FISTS OF GLORY…Nir Bitton and Israeli international team-mate Hatem Abd Elhamed celebrate.
MAKE MINE A DOUBLE…Hoops duo Mikey Johnston and Ryan Christie with their medals.
GLOVE AFFAIR…Man-of-the-Match Fraser Forster shows his delight.
MANAGER AND MATCHWINNER…Neil Lennon and Christopher Jullien with the trophy.
TWO-MAN HUDDLE…Neil Lennon congratulates Ryan Christie.
HAMPDEN CONFIDENTIAL…Neil Lennon’s secretive whispers bring a smile to Scott Brown’s face.
THE CUDDLE…Scott Brown embraces Fraser Forster as Callum McGregor prepares to join in.
TWO FOR THE ROAD…Callum McGregor and Kristoffer Ajer take the trophy for a tour of Hampden.
CONGRATULATIONS…the victorious Celtic players and boss Neil Lennon soak up the special atmosphere reserved for winners.
TOMORROW: The best and words for the rest of December.