By Andy Coyle on STV News
Celtic have confirmed the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as manager, with the Northern Irishman signing a three-year deal at Parkhead.
Rodgers returns for a second spell in charge, having led the club to seven successive domestic trophies from 2016 until his departure for Leicester City in 2019.
The 50-year-old succeeds Ange Postecoglou as Celtic boss, following his decision to join Tottenham Hotspur after concluding a Treble-winning season in Glasgow.
Assistant boss John Kennedy will also remain at the club, despite overtures from the Australian to join him in North London.
Rodgers told the club’s website: “I am really delighted to return to Celtic and I am hugely excited by this great opportunity. When I was given the privilege of being asked to join the club again, it was a very simple decision for me and my family.
“We have enjoyed some great times at Celtic before and this will be my goal again, to deliver good football, ensure we have a team we all love to watch and ultimately bring more success to our fans.
“Ange has done some brilliant work across the last two years and I will be doing all I can to maintain Celtic’s momentum as we face into all our domestic and European challenges.”
He added: “We have a hugely impressive and talented group of players and staff at the club, and I am really looking forward to meeting up with them all and then getting straight down to work.
“I wanted John to be with me as we move forward. He is a very talented coach, someone I know well and respect and he will be very important to myself and our players.
“The club is in fantastic condition at all levels and I would like to thank the board for putting their trust in me to take the team forward. We will work very closely together as we strive to bring that success to our supporters.”
The club’s new manager will now look to successfully defend the domestic trophies won under Postecoglou but also progress in Europe, with Celtic already having qualified directly for the Champions League group stage.
Rodgers’ first spell as Celtic manager was hugely successful, but the manner of his exit tarnished his reputation with some of the club’s support.
The Northern Irishman’s arrival in Glasgow in 2016 was seen as a coup for Celtic, who had parted company with Ronny Deila. Rodgers had a huge profile after his time at Liverpool and he took the job promising “exciting, entertaining and winning football”.
Though suffering a 1-0 defeat to Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps his first competitive game, Rodgers quickly lifted the team and took them into the Champions League group stage.
In domestic competition, he led the club to their fourth ever treble in his first season, the team earning the “Invincibles” tag as they went through the entire season without defeat to a Scottish club.
Rodgers’ Celtic team repeated their treble success the following season, stretching their unbeaten record to 69 games before defeat as they swept up all three trophies again.
League Cup success in December 2018 made it seven consecutive trophies for the team under the manager but the following February, with Celtic eight points clear at the top of the league and still in the Scottish Cup, Rodgers left to join Leicester City.
The abrupt nature of the departure and his decision to take staff with him to the King Power Stadium, left many fans angry.
A banner unfurled during the team’s next game read: “”You traded immortality for mediocrity. Never a Celtic, always a fraud.”
He later told the Belfast Telegraph that he had planned to leave at the end of the season in any case, but that he understood the depth of feeling in the support.
“Obviously there was a lot said within Celtic, outside of Celtic and media but I’ll never let that ever diminish the amazing time I had there because for me it is all about the feeling,” he said.
“I understand Celtic people and supporters when I left. I totally get that because a loss of anything there is always sadness and anger and I totally get that and how I left it was the probably the shock element of it.
“I look back and think more of the amazing time I had not just on the pitch but off the pitch and the support I had and the friends we made.
“Living in Glasgow was an amazing experience. We travel up when we can and the experience will never be tainted by anything else.”
During his time at Leicester, Rodgers guided the team to successive fifth-place finishes in the Premier League and won the FA Cup in 2021. Poor league form last season saw him repeatedly under pressure and he left the club by mutual consent in April.
Chairman Peter Lawwell said: “Through the process of identifying the new Celtic manager, it was clear that Brendan was the outstanding choice and we are absolutely delighted that we have appointed him on a long-term contract.
“We wanted a proven winner and that’s what Brendan is, and myself and everyone else at the club look forward to working with him again to continue to drive Celtic forward.
“He is someone who knows the club so well and has experience of the huge challenges at Celtic, domestically and in Europe. Brendan is well aware of what it takes to succeed in this role and we know he is delighted to be back with us.”
He added: “Brendan is a top-quality manager. He has delivered before for Celtic and we are sure through his many qualities, he will do so again.”