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Craig Gordon can't wait to sample taste of the big time at long last

By Ronnie Esplin

Champions League football has been a "long time coming" for Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon but he cannot wait to experience it.

The 33-year-old spent two years battling against a knee injury with most people believing they had seen the last of him before he signed for the Hoops in the summer of 2014.

However, Gordon came back as good as ever and, after winning back his place in the Scotland set-up, he now has the Champions League group stages to look forward to for the first time in his career after the 5-4 aggregate play-off win over Israeli side Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

The former Hearts and Sunderland No.1 believes his football resurrection is now complete.

He said: "That was one of my aims when I came to Celtic. I had a few disappointments along the way but if you keep trying and giving it your all, it is nice when the good nights come along and we will celebrate it well.

"To reach what is probably the best club competition in the world, it is pretty good, especially from where I have come from, and now I want to prove I am capable of playing at that level.

"I am 33 now and this will be my first taste of it so it is great to finally get here."

Gordon, whose first-half penalty save in Israel ultimately proved pivotal, added: "We have had a long road, a difficult challenge, a new manager (Brendan Rodgers) coming in and we have settled into a way of playing."

The Scottish champions had to battle to get through to today's draw even after taking a 5-2 lead to the Turner Stadium.

Gordon saved Maharan Radi's spot-kick before Ben Sahar headed the Israeli champions ahead.

A mix-up between Saidy Janko and Gordon then allowed Ovidiu Hoban the easiest of chances, but the visitors saw the game out.

Gordon added: "Although we made it very difficult, we managed to do it. It is exciting and I can't wait to get started. It is brilliant, a great achievement for everybody here."

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