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Rodgers' men remind me of Lisbon Lions: Celtic chief

 

By Ronnie Esplin

Brendan Rodgers' current Celtic side have a "whiff" of the Lisbon Lions about them, according to chairman Ian Bankier. On this day in 1967, Jock Stein's Hoops became the first British side to capture the European Cup with a 2-1 win over Inter Milan in Portugal's capital city.

The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Eva Bolander, hosted a civic reception at the City Chambers to mark the 50th anniversary of the achievement, and Celtic representatives, including members of the Lisbon Lions, were in attendance.

Bankier drew favourable comparisons with Ulsterman Rodgers' side - who are unbeaten domestically since the start of the season and on the brink of a treble - and Stein's all-conquering team, recognised as the greatest to come out of Celtic Park.

"When you look at this team you get a kind of whiff of Lions about them," he said. "There is a togetherness which everybody notices and there is a confidence.

"The way the goalkeeper (Craig Gordon) participates in back passes, almost playing around with the opposition. There is real confidence there so there is a definite synergy there."

Bankier admits that Rodgers has more than matched the expectations of the Celtic board since taking over from Norwegian boss Ronny Deila last season.

The Ulsterman guided the club into the Champions League, albeit they failed to get out of their group, and they won 34 and drew four of their Premiership matches to clinch a sixth successive title.

And with the Betfred Cup already in the bag, Celtic will complete the treble with a win over Aberdeen in Saturday's Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.

"We are honest enough to say he has exceeded expectations," said Bankier. "He is a magnificent and interesting individual.

"The thing that has impressed me most of all is his work ethic, his attention to detail and that of his staff, that instils into the team.

"You can see the difference between last season and this season and it is all down to Brendan."

Bankier confirmed that the former Swansea and Liverpool boss will have money available to bolster his squad in the summer but expects only "some tinkering".

"There is money within our self-sustaining model," he said. "Qualification for Europe makes that money significantly better. I don't expect wholesale revolution but I do expect some tinkering."

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