Biblical Bhoys! ‘Defeat Valencia, bring us back their heads alongside our pride,’ Niall J

Valencia over two legs. Two games between two clubs of great European pedigree to be fought on the turf of two of the most famous arenas in World football. The wonderful Celtic Park and the famed Mestalla. Atmospheres where even the wealthiest and blasé of footballing talent’s would be salivating to sample and perform in.

This is huge, this is massive, this is the biggest test of our season so far. It is also a huge challenge for Brendan Rodgers and his own Celtic legacy. It is in such challenges that Brendan can lay down his marker as a genuine great Celtic manager.

Domestically he has woven himself firmly into the fabric of our club. Historical achievements have been made. None more so than the Invincibles and then the Double Treble. Unbeaten runs have surpassed previous long-standing records. ‘I came, I saw and I conquered,” was the banner that the guys now from The Celtic Star held aloft at Hampden on the Invincible Scottish Cup Final day.

But if there is any doubt it lies in battles fought abroad. In this we have faced up to some serious opposition, at times we have competed well. Bayern Munich, Manchester City, RB Leipzig. In Others The Bhoys have taken as a Polish commentator once so famously said ‘one hell of a beating’. Forgivable perhaps to the likes of PSG and Barca. Less so to the likes of Zenit and AEK Athens.

That lingering doubt remains at the back of the mind. Can we still compete or do we fall short in Europe?

Tactically are we astute enough to have alternative plans for more the wily opposition than we face at home? Do we channel the crowd well enough at Paradise to make it as much a fortress for visitors from abroad as we do for our Scottish neighbours?

When we leave the security of home do we have enough in the bank to have that psychological edge over the opposition for the second leg? Do we actually have the inner belief and the cunning in the armoury to genuinely believe we can prevail abroad?

Well for me it’s over these two legs that we really do learn if Celtic are progressing and questions can and will be answered. It is over these two legs that Brendan can lay down that marker and dispel those lingering doubts in minds such as mine and maybe yours as to whether he is a genuine contender as a great of Celtic management in European as well as in domestic football.

It is abroad that Celtic are judged as a force. Like it or not and however dominant we may be, those commentating and judging outside the confines of Scotland and even amongst ourselves as a support know we judge ourselves and are judged by others on our European performances. At best we’ve been patchy, we’ve flattered to deceive. We’ve looked like we are almost there on occasions only to find we were further way than we thought.

We all know the excuses, we all know the constraints but every club in every country has their own constraints their own excuses. It doesn’t matter. It has to be done. It has to be achieved. Celtic have to be made a name in Europe once again and it’s moments like this where it can happen. It’s where the win can be achieved from there the confidence grows, from the confidence breeds momentum and from momentum achievement occurs.

Our bravery over these games should be absolute. In the tackle, off the ball, brave in possession. In periods of domination we must execute our opportunities. In periods of adversity we must resist and if we concede we must react positively. Demons of the past need to be summoned as a strength we learned from not a weakness that betrays us.

Anyone remember their bible studies? David and Goliath everyone knows that story.

Slightly more controversial was the story of Judith. The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life. Loyal.

Judith found a way. Odd stacked against her, overpowered by money and by forces she took it upon herself to act and in a little more style than David over Goliath if you ask me!

Now no-one is saying the brutality needs to be matched of course, but we’ve started well. The Twitter love in between the two clubs, the press conferences where we’ve both flirted. ‘Your stadium is great’, ‘No your supporters are the best’. On to the press conferences of mutual respect. The niceties should now be put aside. We’ve drawn them into a false sense of security. Let’s execute a two legged game plan and show we are a European team and not just a domestic big fish.

Over to you Brendan. Summon the spirit of Judith. Instil the confidence, Defeat Valencia, cultivate that belief, carry it on to future European battlefields and bring us back their heads alongside our pride.

Niall J

Also on The Celtic Star…

‘Celtic are fast, intense and dynamic,’ Valencia boss

Happy Administration Day! Seven years on…their hurt, shame, rage and stress

Brendan sees me as Celtic’s Number 9 says Oli Burke

Celtic on This Day – Bhoys survive late scare in Perth, Gordon celebrates double save

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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