HAMPDEN STADIUM was a cauldron of raw emotion on a wet and windy afternoon of December 8 2019.
Neil Lennon’s Celtic side defended their League Cup against Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit who were determined to derail the Parkhead club’s glorious sequence of winning everything in sight on the domestic front.
It was a rocking, rollicking encounter at the national stadium where only the brave would survive.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, we look at the heroes who made certain the silverware would be bedecked in green and white ribbons at the end of a breathtaking confrontation.
The towering English international keeper proved to be unbeatable as he repelled everything Steven Gerrard’s side could throw at him. He capped a remarkable performance when he sprawled to his right to save a penalty-kick from Alfredo Morelos just moments after Christopher Jullien had scored.
His loan spell from Southampton expired the following summer and the returned to the south coast club. Ironically, he replaced Joe Hart as deputy to club captain Hugo Lloris at Spurs and is now enjoying a run in the first team due to a long-term injury to the French netminder.
NO WAY THROUGH…Fraser Forster gets down swiftly to save from Alfredo Morelos’ penalty-kick.
The 18-year-old rookie defender, a £1million buy from Manchester City only three months earlier, saw his participation in the action cut short when he was red-carded just three minutes after Jullien had sidefooted Neil Lennon’s side into the lead on the hour mark.
Referee Willie Collum banished the Dutchman for a foul on Morelos who then saw his spot-kick saved. The pacy, attack-minded right-back moved to the Bundesliga just over a year later in a £11.5million switch to Bayer Leverkusen.
MATCHWINNER…Christopher Jullien sidefoots the only goal of the game to claim the 2019 League Cup for Celtic. Team-mates Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and James Forrest get a good view of the silverware clincher.
The commanding Frenchman, the most expensive defender in Celtic history after his £7million arrival from Toulouse in the summer of 2019, was the matchwinner when he touched in a swirling left-wing free-kick from Ryan Christie.
Unfortunately, the 6ft-plus centre-back’s Hoops career was put in jeopardy when he collided with a goalpost in a 3-0 win over Dundee United at Parkhead just over a year later.
He was sidelined for over a year following knee surgery and made only one fleeting 14-minute competitive appearance as a substitute in the team’s 4-0 Scottish Cup win over Raith Rovers in February last year. He was sold to Ligue 1 outfit for £750,000 in August.
ROARING SUCCESS…Kristoffer Ajer celebrates with the delighted Celtic fans.
The Norwegian giant dovetailed superbly with Jullien to play his part in the victory, but he took the headlines a year later on December 20 at the same venue when he thumped in an unstoppable penalty-kick to complete Celtic’s phenomenal quadruple treble.
With the Scottish Cup Final against Hearts stalemated at 3-3 after extra-time, Ajer walloped the decisive kick past former team-mate Craig Gordon to seal the club’s TWELFTH domestic trophy in succession. He left the following summer in a £15million move to Brentford.
SILVERWARE CELTS…Jonny Hayes holds aloft the newly-won League Cup while Nir Bitton awaits his turn to get his hands on the trophy.
The Republic of Ireland international was signed by Brendan Rodgers after he scored for Aberdeen in their 2-1 Scottish Cup showdown defeat to the Hoops in the ‘Tom Rogic Final’ in May 2017.
His versatility was invaluable as he covered three positions on the left. Put in his usual dependable shift against the Ibrox side. Now 35, Hayes returned to the Pittodrie outfit in the summer of 2020.
SMILES BETTER…skipper Scott Brown plays peek-a-boo with the League Cup as team-mates Jeremie Frimpong, Ryan Christie, Kristoffer Ajer and Callum McGregor celebrate.
The multi-decorated Celtic captain, who won 22 honours at Parkhead, was outstanding in the frantic midfield against Gerrard’s team. He refused to be hustled out of his stride as he put in an exhausting 90 minutes-plus in defence and in the engine room.
Broony quit in the summer of 2021 at the end of his contract to join his ex-Hibs team-mate and personal friend Stephen Glass as player-coach at Aberdeen.
The had coach was sacked in February last year after a Scottish Cup exit at Motherwell and Brown left shortly afterwards. He is now team boss at Fleetwood Town.
One of only two Celtic stars still at the club from the line-up that started the 2019 League Cup Final.
The 29-year-old Scotland international midfielder took over the armband from Brown and won his first piece of silverware as onfield leader in this competition in December 2021 when he masterminded the 2-1 comeback victory over Hibs.
Added a Premiership title in May last year and is now looking to be successful in the team’s quest for the treble this time around.
The Highlander swung in the free-kick that unlocked the opposition’s defence as the ball dropped perfectly for Jullien to knock beyond the stranded Allan McGregor.
Christie only played a few games after the arrival of Postecoglou in June 2021 before being sold to Bournemouth for £3million. He is now perfoming in the top flight after helping the south coast club to promotion in his first season.
THE CUP THAT CHEERS…delighted Celtic players and boss Neil Lennon celebrate the memorable League Cup 2019 triumph.
The evergreen winger was the other performer alongside McGregor on the big day who is still at the club. Thirty-one-year-old Forrest is not an automatic first pick these days, but Ange Postecoglou insists he is a crucial memember of his squad.
Reached two landmarks this season, scoring his 100th Hoops goal in a hat-trick performance in a 6-1 win over Hibs at Parkhead in October before achieving a century of assists three months later to join an exclusive club, including Lisbon Lion Jimmy Johnstone and the iconic Henrik Larsson.
SHOVE OFF…Mohamed Elyounoussi tussles with Ryan Jack for possession.
The Norwegian international was in his first of two loan spells at Celtic from Southampton and had scored two goals in the 5-2 win over Hibs in the semi-final to guide the team towards the meeting with Gerrard’s club.
He struggled with a foot injury and was replaced at half-time by Mikey Johnston. Was often a good foil for Odsonne Edouard up front. He returned to the St Mary’s club just as Postecoglou was moving in to the Parkhead hot seat.
The former St Mirren winger had to answer an SOS and play through the middle with Edouard not deemed fit enough to start the game. It wasn’t a success as Morgan toiled against Connor Goldson and Filip Helander.
He was taken off in the 59th minute for the introduction of the French ace. A month later, he was sold to David Beckham’s MLS outfit Inter Miami and is now with New York Red Bulls.
The versatile Israeli defender came on for Forrest in the 66th minute when Lennon reorganised his defence following the dismissal of Frimpong. Played a further two years at the club before leaving along with Tom Rogic last summer.
He returned to his homeland with Maccabi Tel Aviv
PUSHOVER…Connor Goldson bites the dust after a duel with Odsonne Edouard.
Was only fit enough to appear from the bench as a substitute for Morgan just before the hour mark. It was a game-changing introduction. Goldson welcomed the marksman to the party with a clumsy challenge on the left wing which resulted in the free-kick from Christie that was turned in by unlikely matchwinner Jullien.
Edouard had entered the final year of his contract when Postecoglou was appointed and was sold for £19.8million to Crystal Palace on deadline day August 2021.
MEDALLION MEN…Mikey Johnston and Ryan Christie share the joy.
Johnston squandered a glorious opportunity to ease the tension at Hampden when he was sent clear by Edouard in the 69th minute.
It was a one-on-one situation with the exposed McGregor and it looked odds-on the former Scotland Under-21 international winger would double Celtic’s advantage, but he agonisingly rolled the ball wide of the left-hand post.
He is currently on loan at Portuguese top-flight club Vitoria Guimaraes as he plays out the second period of his season-long temporary switch.