IT SEEMED somehow appropriate that Ange Postecoglou should take his final bow as Celtic manager at the completion of Scottish soccer’s silverware showpiece at Hampden on Saturday June 3.
The Greek-Australian had remained stubbornly tightlipped amid mounting speculation he was on his way to Spurs with the London club poised to unveil him as the sacked Antonio Conte’s successor 48 hours after the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle on the last day of a phenomenally successful campaign.
Postecoglou had led the team to the grand finale after clinching the Premiership title and the League Cup for the second successive season.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END…Ange Postecoglou surveys Hampden before the Scottish Cup Final on June 3.
With the club’s eighth treble in sight – an achievement which would set a world record – the 57-year-old gaffer refused to be sidetracked as his attention was riveted unwaveringly on achieving history with the Parkhead club.
Referring to the ceaseless reports concerning his future, the fans’ favourite, during his routine parry-and-thrust meetings with the media, said: “Somebody else was favourite last week, wasn’t he?
“It doesn’t register. I get that people love to speculate on these things, but we’ve worked really, really hard to get ourselves into this position.
“For me to let my mind wander about anything else other than getting our team prepared for a big day on Saturday, it’s just not who I am.”
The Hoops chief, who had been linked with a host of English clubs throughout the season including Everton, Leeds United, Wolves, Leicester City, Southampton and Brighton, added: “We’ve done this dance a few times this year, so I think the players are well aware of where my thoughts lie.
“Whatever it is, the players are really good at just focusing on what’s important – and what’s important is getting ready for a big game on Saturday.
A BIG HAND…Ange Postecoglou acknowledges the Celtic support before kick-off.
“It doesn’t enter my sphere of thinking because my role is to make sure my team is absolutely prepared for whatever the next challenge is.
“Far be it from me to say that if a Cup Final isn’t enough for me to draw all my attention to that then nothing will be.”
Responding to other queries from the press, Postecoglou added: “I understand that’s your job to ask these questions because that’s the role you’re in, but you’re not invested in this football club like I am, like the players are and the supporters are.
“For me, I woke up this morning thinking about one thing, the same thing I’ve been thinking about for the last seven days – we want to make sure we play well in this Cup Final and make it a truly special season.”
Earlier in the year, the former Australia World Cup chief had revealed: “If people are talking about my future or are interested in my future I will sit there and listen.
“But it doesn’t mean I am going to jump at anything that comes my way. I am really passionate about what I do and the people close to me know what is most important to me, what drives me and what keeps me sort of happy in my role. I couldn’t be happier.
YOU’RE IN MY HEART…Ange Postecoglou at the end of the Scottish Cup Final.
”I am still here even though people have been getting me out the door. I am hoping that over the course of time as long as I’m here, and I think you will be surprised how long I am here, I am just consumed by what I do.
“That is to try to make this football club the best it can be and enjoy every minute of it.”
The celebrating Celtic supporters lapped up the 3-1 Scottish Cup Final success over the gallant Highlanders when Kyogo Furuhashi, Liel Abada and Filipe Jota – three players brought to the club by the manager – struck the goals at a national stadium bathed in sunshine.
Postecoglou and his history-making players waved to the fans at the trophy and medal presentation, but there was still the nagging doubt this could be the last sighting of the boss on Celtic duty.
The question was asked on several occasions – and every time it was batted away by the non-committal team boss, who was just a week away from the second anniversary of agreeing to become Neil Lennon’s successor.
CQN observed at the time: “Unless there is a startling U-turn in the thinking of Postecoglou, it looks as though his time is up in Glasgow and North London and Spurs now beckon for the popular manager.
“The uncertainty may have tinged some of the celebrations, but it could not remove the emotion of the occasion in the perfect setting of a sunkissed national stadium.”
SPLASH HIT…Joe Hart uncorks the bubbly as skipper Callum McGregor and Ange Postecoglou celebrate a superb treble in the Hampden sunshine.
Afterwards, Postecoglou took to the club website to deliver a heartfelt message to the support.
Here is every word from that bulletin.
“Congratulations on winning the Treble! This is your success as much as it is the players and coaching staff, and every single member of the Celtic Family deserves to celebrate this incredible moment for the club.
“We know that the history of Celtic is littered with success, and this season’s Treble now takes its place alongside everything that has come before us.
“It is also a significant moment for the club, given that it sets a new world record of winning eight domestic Trebles.
“The aim of every Celtic team at the start of a season is to do as well as they possibly can in every competition they take part in, and that was the same for us when the campaign kicked off back in July last year.
“We achieved our first objective in winning the League Cup, retaining the trophy we won last season, with an impressive derby victory at Hampden which was a great occasion for everyone to celebrate.
“We followed that up by winning the Premiership title for the second season in a row, confirming our status as the best team in Scotland and that, in turn, has once again delivered UEFA Champions League football to the club.
“The level of consistency the squad showed through the season, winning 32 of the 38 games, drawing three and losing just three, is great credit to the players. We also scored 114 league goals and conceded just 34 which, again, is a testament to our style of football which has entertained our supporters throughout the season.
“Having won both of those competitions, we could then focus on the Scottish Cup Final and the opportunity to win that trophy and so secure the Treble.
“I know that the Scottish Cup final is always a special occasion for supporters and one that everyone looks forward to, and so to win this famous old trophy in the sun at Hampden is an occasion to celebrate.
THE LAST HURRAH…Ange Postecoglou proudly holds aloft the Scottish Cup.
“This Treble now sits alongside the seven previous Trebles that the club has won under Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill, Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon, and it’s an achievement that everyone at the club is rightly very proud of.
“It was also special to be able to celebrate today’s success alongside so many of our supporters in Hampden, and given that every single fan plays their part in what we do through the incredible backing they give the team week in, week out, it’s something that we can all share and enjoy together.
“Thank you again!”
Forty-eight hours later, Postecoglou was on his way for formal talks with Spurs’ chief executive Daniel Levy before his anticipated appointment was signed, sealed and delivered with Celtic’s disappointment tempered somewhat with a cheque for £5million in due compensation for their manager.
In the summer of 2021, in the fall-out of a disastrous, wretched season, Postecoglou was there when Celtic needed him.
Just as importantly, Celtic were there when Postecoglou needed them.
The dance is now over, we’ve had our last waltz. Thank you for the memories, Ange. It was a helluva ride, mate.
CELTIC 3 Inverness Caley Thistle 1
Kyogo, Abada, Jota