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‘CARVE YOUR NAME WITH PRIDE, BHOYS,’ RODGERS

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BRENDAN RODGERS is urging his Celtic team to bring their big-game mentality to Hampden this afternoon.

The Hoops boss is determined his players carve their names with pride in the aftermath of the Scottish Cup Final against Motherwell where the Parkhead men can make history by winning a double treble.

Rodgers has a perfect record of seven wins from seven games at the national stadium since replacing Ronny Deila in May 2016.

He said: “Over the couple of seasons we’ve been here, I’ve been really pleased with seeing that growth and development in the high-pressure games.

“The level of their football in those games and how they’ve stayed calm and controlled in them is key.

“When I think back to when we first arrived, there was a real trepidation around going to Hampden for all the players, supporters and staff at the club.

“It is a mindset that has changed. It doesn’t guarantee that you are always going to win, but what it does is give you what we all want in life – a chance and an opportunity.

“I sense that even this week. It has been great to look back on some of my notes and some of my plans from last year, to then looking at it this week.

HAMPDEN HAPPINESS…Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers with the League Cup after this season’s 2-0 victory over Motherwell. Pic: Geo.

“There is an equal focus, but we did it last year, we won the treble. That always gives you confidence and gives you that level of control going into the game.

“It’s a brilliant chance for us. I never say to the players: ‘You’ve got to take this chance because it will be the only chance in your life’. Because part of me thinks: “Do you not think you can do it again?”.

“But there’s no doubt there’s an opportunity to write another chapter in the great history of the club.

“You think of the great history of Scottish football – in all the various eras and levels of players – and there’s a reason why it’s never been done. All you want is a chance and we have a chance.”

Jock Stein’s Celtic and Walter Smith’s Rangers both came agonisingly close to successive trebles, but Rodgers could now break new ground.

Asked what it would mean to him personally, he insisted: “I haven’t really thought about that. My happiness would be for the players, for the supporters.

“It’s a chance to create history in the club and that’s great. If we can get our sixth trophy in two seasons it would be absolutely amazing, but the thought is about performing in the game.

“My job, as I said when I first came in, was to inspire supporters and give them some great memories. If we win, that will do that for them.

“For me, I said last year that, at least, whenever the time came to leave here, I knew I wasn’t a total disaster.

“That is always the fear. You come into a club you support and you’ve got to be with friends and family for the rest of your life, saying you were hopeless.

“At least, I have got something to show.”

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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