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‘RODGERS CAN MAKE EURO IMPACT,’ O’NEILL

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MARTIN O’NEILL believes Brendan Rodgers can lead Celtic to their first European Final since Seville in 2003.

Today marks the 15th anniversary of O’Neill’s side losing 3-2 to Porto after extra-time in the UEFA Cup Final.

The Republic of Ireland manager, who saw his nation draw 2-2 at Parkhead yesterday in the Scott Brown Testimonial Match, believes the Hoops have the quality to make an impact on Europe.

Rodgers’ men finished third in their Champions League group last season before being knocked out of the Europa League by Zenit St Petersburg at the last-32 stage.

O’Neill said: “I think getting to a European Final can be done again. I don’t think it’s impossible.

“Brendan is dominating Scottish football just now and Celtic have been very strong. The next step now is to try to achieve success in Europe.

“Hopefully, those days are not gone and it would be nice, imagine me saying this, if Rangers could get stronger.

That seems as if it might be on the cards and a good, strong Rangers is good for the league.

“And actually, it will benefit Celtic to get stronger in Europe. Why? Well, Celtic don’t rest on their laurels in Scotland but if the competition gets stronger, they will rise to it.

“If Rangers are in a position to delve into the transfer market and get some decent players, it will be a reminder to Celtic.

“They are dominating the league and are very strong. In Brendan’s time, they have not been casual at all. They have won six competitions, but I think he would welcome it, too.”

O’Neill recorded a domestic clean sweep during his first campaign in charge of Celtic – 2000/01 – and lauded Rodgers for becoming the first to achieve it in successive seasons.

He added: “It’s extremely difficult to do what Celtic have done. Even the great Jock Stein had difficulty with it.

“Of course, the 1967 side eclipses everything, really. That is something to look to all the time for any Celtic manager.

“But it’s a great achievement. To do it once is very good. To do it twice on the trot, is excellent. They have deserved it, too – and played some really decent football.”

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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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