Belfast Telegraph

Trips to graves of his parents inspired Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers to 'seize day'

By Ivan Little

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he used to make emotional pilgrimages back home on his own to visit the graves of his loving parents in Northern Ireland.

Brendan, who's from Carnlough in Co Antrim, said he returned so that he could spend time at his parents' final resting places before flying back to Liverpool, where he was managing the Anfield club at the time.

His mum, 53-year-old Christina Rodgers, died suddenly in 2010, two months after her son was sacked by Reading.

And Brendan's painter and decorator father, Malachy Rodgers, lost his long battle against throat cancer 18 months later.

Brendan was at his father's bedside when he passed away in September 2011.

Four months earlier, despite his terminal illness, Malachy managed to get to Wembley to see his son's old club, Swansea, clinch a place in the Premier League by beating Reading.

It was his father's last game.

In a newspaper interview this week, Brendan talked of the devastation that his parents' deaths had caused him and his four brothers.

He said he travelled back and forward to Northern Ireland by himself, just so that he could sit by his parents' graves.

Brendan added that their deaths left him feeling vulnerable for a time, but he added that those emotions had been replaced by a determination to "seize the day".

Brendan said that his sense of mortality returned recently after he read about the death of footballer Kevin Austin from pancreatic cancer.

He played for Brendan's old club, Swansea.

"He was the same age as me," said Brendan. "He was 45. He was only diagnosed last year. It's a short life."

Brendan has spoken in the past of the debt that he owes both his parents, putting his success down to their "good influences".

And he said that he had learned to work hard by following the example of his "role models".

In the past, Brendan has helped a number of charities in their honour, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care and running the Belfast Marathon for the children's hospice in the city, which he visited at Christmas two years ago. He has also made sizeable donations to charity.

At the weekend, Brendan guided his Celtic team to glory in the final of the Scottish League Cup at Hampden, as they beat Aberdeen 1-0.

It was his third League Cup triumph and the seventh successive trophy he has won since becoming Celtic manager.

He said that the victory was his "most satisfying" since taking over the reins at Parkhead because the start of the season had been so difficult for his Glasgow team.

Looking to the future, Brendan said he loved his job at Celtic, but admitted that he might one day seek new challenges "out of his comfort zone".

He added: "I left school with no qualifications, so my life has always been based on experiences. I have always looked to the next experience.

"This is an incredible club and my boyhood team and I'm loving it.

"But there will be a point where it's about the next experience."

Belfast Telegraph

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