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Celtic tie could be Linfield's finest hour, says Hoops hero


By Steven Beacom

Former Celtic star Anton Rogan has stated that a Champions League meeting between his old team and Linfield would be 'great for Belfast and great for Glasgow'.

While there has understandably been much talk about security, dates, times and the potential fixture at Windsor Park, Rogan says he prefers to consider the football match itself and the prospect of a colourful, atmospheric occasion in his old home city.

Now based in Oxfordshire, where he owns a taxi firm, Rogan insists there are a host of reasons to be positive about such a fixture, not least a meeting of two of Northern Ireland's biggest football names - Linfield boss David Healy and Celtic supremo Brendan Rodgers.

First things first, of course, because the Irish League champions must defeat San Marino side La Fiorita in their first qualifying round tie in order to play Celtic at Windsor and Parkhead.

Rogan began his career at Distillery and knows all about the magnitude of Linfield in Northern Ireland. In 1986 he transferred from the Whites to Celtic, becoming a favourite amongst the fans, winning league titles and Scottish Cups before moving on to Sunderland in 1991.

On the prospect of Linfield playing Celtic in Europe's premier competition, 52-year-old Rogan said: "It would be a massive tie and I think it will be great for Belfast and great for Glasgow if it happens.

"They are two historic clubs who have never played each other, and for Linfield I think it would be the biggest game in their history.

"For both clubs there would be a lot in it, it would be special all round.

"I think it can be a great event for football, one of the greatest ever seen in Belfast as long as everyone behaves themselves.

"I played against Linfield at Windsor Park when I was at Distillery. I remember playing them at Ballyskeagh a few times as well. They were always good games to be involved in because Linfield were a big Irish League club and Celtic are one of the biggest clubs in the world."

Celtic would be odds on to progress, with ex-Northern Ireland defender Rogan remarking that former Rangers and Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll would need to be on top form for the Blues.

"I think Roy will be a busy man if Celtic play Linfield, but he's experienced enough and has been around the block to know what's coming," said Rogan.

"He's a brilliant goalkeeper and still going strong.

"I know there is a lot of respect for Roy in the game and I'm sure if Linfield face Celtic he'll have a massive part to play.

"The void is massive between the clubs football wise and money wise, but the way Linfield have to look at it is if they are on the pitch they have got a chance.

"For Celtic, they will go into the tie knowing they have to do a professional job. With a manager like Brendan Rodgers you would expect them to do that.

"You couldn't have a better script in terms of the managers with David Healy taking on Brendan Rodgers.

"You have Northern Ireland's greatest goalscorer managing Linfield and you have Brendan who has just won the treble with his Celtic side who went unbeaten throughout the whole domestic campaign. I think it will be fantastic to see those two side by side."

There will be incredible noise inside Windsor when Celtic visit.

The atmosphere is sure to be hostile for the away side. Rogan experienced that himself as a Northern Ireland player in the late 80s when he was booed at Windsor by home supporters because he played for Celtic.

"It was one of those things. I have never moaned about it, I put my head down and got on with it. It never bothered me," said Rogan.

"What was the point of me getting involved in all that? It went away because they saw I wasn't bothered by it. They left me alone and now Northern Ireland supporters tell me they respected me for how I handled things back then."

Meanwhile, Celtic have been linked with a move for one of Dutch football's biggest stars.

PSV full-back Joshua Brenet is one of the most sought after players in the Eredivisie and has been linked with a move to the likes of Watford, Udinese and Fiorentina.

But according to Dutch media reports, Celtic are among the sides leading the pack for Brenet's signature.

Hoops boss Rodgers is understood to be looking to strengthen his defensive options following the departure of a number of players over the summer.

Brenet could be an ideal signing for the Parkhead side, but with a contract running until 2020, he could cost somewhere around the £3.5m mark.

Considered one of the best prospects in Dutch football, Brenet already has two full caps for the national side.

Belfast Telegraph


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