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Rogan keen for Bhoys to avoid repeat of 1990 woe

 

By Steven Beacom

Former Northern Ireland defender Anton Rogan is relishing tomorrow's Scottish Cup final between his old team Celtic and Aberdeen.

It's the first time the clubs have met in the decider since 1990. Rogan is hoping for a different outcome this time around having played a significant and unfortunate role in the history-making epic at Hampden 27 years ago.

The Belfast man, who now owns a taxi firm in Oxfordshire, had played well in defence for the Hoops as the game finished 0-0 after extra-time. In previous years with such a result, the final would have gone to a replay. In 1990, it was the first time a Scottish Cup was decided by penalties.

The shoot-out was both agonising and dramatic. At 8-8, up stepped boyhood Celtic fan Rogan. His strike was clean but Aberdeen goalkeeper Theo Snelders dived low to his left and made a brilliant save. Moments later, a distraught Rogan watched as Brian Irvine scored to earn the Dons a 9-8 victory and the Scottish Cup.

"When I hit the penalty it looked like it was going in the corner and the Aberdeen keeper made a great stop," recalled Rogan, who was capped 18 times by Northern Ireland.

"I spoke to Theo Snelders after the game and he told me that it was one of the best saves he had ever made.

"Scottish Cup finals didn't normally go to penalties. I think they had to finish on the day in 1990 because the World Cup was coming up or something.

"A lot of my friends in Belfast were big Celtic supporters, so I didn't get away from it for years. I was a young lad and I don't mind admitting it was hard but a lot of good friends helped me through it."

Rogan, who having joined Celtic from Distillery in 1986 and moved five years later to Sunderland, added: "That's football. You take the good with the bad and get on with it. I played in the 1988 and 1989 Scottish Cup finals and won them, played in the 1990 final and the 1991 League Cup final and when I went to Sunderland I played in the FA Cup final in 1992 against Liverpool so I was involved in five finals in five years. Not many people can say that."

While Rogan's name and that final have been on the lips of Celtic fans in the build-up to tomorrow's clash, he enjoyed many more good times than bad at Parkhead, notably in the Glasgow outfit's centenary season in 1988 when they won the double.

Now 52, Rogan was a popular figure with the Hoops faithful and a superb left-back, noted for his total commitment.

"I loved my time at Celtic and still speak to three or four of the lads from the centenary team," said Rogan.

"There was a lot of pressure on us that season but we handled it really well. We had a combination of youth and experience. We had players like Tommy (Burns), big Roy (Aitken), Paul McStay, Billy Stark and then the younger lads such as little Joe (Millar), Derek Whyte and Chris Morris, so there was a great mix.

"One moment that was really special for me that season was the win at Ibrox when we beat Rangers 2-1. At 1-1 and late in the game I headed a ball across the area and it hit Andy Walker's chest and in for the winner. That was huge."

Tomorrow, he is expecting more Celtic joy under countryman Brendan Rodgers, who grew up as a sports mad kid in Carnlough admiring the qualities of left-back Rogan.

"What Brendan has done is brilliant. I've never met him but a lot of people have said to me that I was one of the players he looked up to when he was young. If that is true I'm proud of that because when you look at what he is doing for Celtic, everyone is looking up at him now," stated Rogan.

"Since he has taken over it has been rise after rise after rise in every way for the club on and off the pitch.

"They have already won the title and League Cup. It would be fantastic if Celtic won the Scottish Cup too and completed the treble. What a great achievement that would be for Brendan and the team. I'm just hoping this year's final doesn't go to penalties and Celtic win it in normal time!"

It's amazing to think that Rogan has not been at Celtic Park since 1996 when he was involved in Mick Galloway's testimonial.

He said: "I hung my boots up 20 odd years ago and have probably only watched three or four football matches live since. I know a lot of other players really enjoy going to games. I don't. I like watching on TV and right now Celtic are the team to watch because of the manager and the players.

"I had a successful career, won trophies with Celtic, played in an FA Cup final and was an international but once it was done for me, it was done. Now I love watching games on television and getting my feet up. That suits me."

It's not just Brendan's Bhoys who have excited Anton. He has also been delighted by the success of Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland Euro 2016 heroes.

Rogan, due to playing for Celtic, was booed by a section of fans when he turned out for Northern Ireland. He never made a big deal of it then and it certainly hasn't affected his support of the side today and his old team-mate O'Neill.

"I speak to him quite a bit. Micky is one of my good friends in football and he has worked wonders with Northern Ireland," said Rogan, who played for Oxford, Millwall and Blackpool after departing Sunderland in 1993.

"We had a great side because most of the team played in the top flights in England and Scotland.

"No disrespect to the lads playing now but quite a few are at Championship or League One clubs which shows how they have raised their games in internationals and the incredible job Michael has done."

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