Brendan Rodgers held his pre-match media conference this afternoon at Celtic Park as the Celtic manager looked forward to this season’s first group stage match in the Champions League against Lazio under the lights at a capacity Celtic Park.
And the Irishman admitted it was the attraction of participating in European football that played a significant part in his decision to return to Celtic in the summer, knowing of course that there would be resistance to the appointment after the manner of his departure in 2019.
Anyone who has seen the footage of Rodgers invading the pitch on Saturday at Fir Park after Matt O’Riley’s late winner will understand just how invested the Celtic manager is in the job. Brendan explained what a European night at Celtic Park looks and feels like from standing just outside the home dugout and surveyed the situation after the opening night 2-0 defeat in Rotterdam against Feyenoord.
“It is such a special feeling and it was part of coming back. You have the chance here at Celtic to qualify for European football and this is the biggest stage you can get at club football in Europe.
“We got off to, in terms of a result, not a great start in the first game but I saw many aspects I was pleased with. To come here and play this game is always special and it is about getting that emotion from the support that rolls down from the stand onto the pitch.
“For us, from the first whistle, we go straight into fifth gear and look to give everything to the game and perform and we know at this level, teams like ourselves have to be at 100 per cent. To be at 98 per cent, at this level, you will come unstuck so we have to give everything and we will do in terms of spirit and it is where this team is at and what they are developing and the mental strength in this team is growing all the time.
“With new players coming, they are starting to understand that. In our last league game, we showed that we have a real competitive spirit and no matter what time in the game it is, we will keep going,” Brendan said.