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Celtic boss Rodgers to share Christmas day with NI Hospice patients

By Cate McCurry

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will spend a rare day off helping the charity closest to his heart on Christmas morning.

The Carnlough man is to lend a helping hand at the Northern Ireland Hospice where he is an ambassador.

The 43-year-old will spend Christmas morning with the families and children of terminally ill patients before meeting his own family later in the day.

The Hoops manager lost his mother and father to cancer in the space of just a year.

His father, Malachy, died in 2011 at the age of 59 and was cared for by the NI Hospice in his final days.

Rodgers plans to travel back to Northern Ireland from Scotland on Christmas Eve after his team play away to Hamilton.

"On Christmas Day I'll spend time with the Northern Ireland Hospice as I'm an ambassador there," he said.

"Later on, I've got family that I'll have Christmas dinner with and then I'll fly back first thing on Boxing Day morning as we're training and we'll be getting ready for the game.

"I became an ambassador earlier this year. I'd done a number of things before but this has been the first Christmas Day that I've had off for a number of years so I'm taking the chance to help the children and families in whatever way I can."

Speaking in Celtic View, he added that he feels "really happy" and wants to share that happiness and bring support to other families.

"You have families that have the hardship of seeing loved ones that are near death.

"I experienced that with my mother and father dying young and the care they received and support we received as a family was everything for us," he continued.

"You're there because it's towards the end and it's not a nice feeling, so any joy or support you can give means more than anything.

"I've been very privileged and lucky to be in a job I love but the people who work in these hospices are angels really, and to give them the support is something I was brought up with.

"My mum was a carer and looked after people, and my dad always looked after people and I was always brought up to think of others and where you can help."

Rodgers is a very proud ambassador and is usually seen wearing the hospice pin on his suit during games and media interviews.

NI Hospice spokesman Alex McGreevy spoke about the moment he approached Rodgers about the role.

"My memory goes back to when we first contacted Brendan to ask him to become an ambassador for us," he said.

"His exact words were 'Tell me what you want me to do, I'm there'.

"He told me the hospice had done great things for his family when his parents were ill," Mr McGreevy said.

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