Success is the greatest driver of narrative change in all walks of life, football included. When Ange Postecoglou - arguably the greatest manager the…
Ange Postecoglou is celebrating his first trophy as Celtic manager after the Australian’s side came from behind to win the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park, beating Hibernian 2-1.
The former Socceroos manager, who took the reins at Parkhead five months ago charged with restoring their Scottish domination, ended up hoisting match-winner Kyogo Furuhashi aloft on Sunday after the Japanese scored twice to earn Celtic a 20th League Cup triumph.
It meant contrasting fortunes for two Socceroos stars with Celtic’s Tom Rogic playing an immense part in Celtic’s victory as he set up the winning goal, while winger Martin Boyle, probably Hibs’ best on the day, found himself on the losing side.
Boyle had sent over the corner from which Paul Hanlon headed the Edinburgh side into the lead in the 51st minute only for Furuhashi to respond just a minute later.
The Japan international then latched on to Rogic’s clever, quickly taken free-kick in the 72nd minute to clip the ball past the advancing ‘keeper Matt Macey for his 16th goal of the season.
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A Kyogo Furuhashi masterclass. Tom Rogic with another match-winning assist.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) December 19, 2021
Postecoglou, who’d been under pressure to deliver after Celtic’s trophy-free season and the resurgence of rivals Rangers under Steven Gerrard, was uncharacteristically emotional as he told BBC on the pitch at Hampden: “It’s all a bit surreal.
“We’ve had a hell of a ride from the moment I arrived, we’ve had some real challenges, up and down results and I’m so proud of this group of players, they’re just so resilient.”
Particularly Celtic’s hero Furuhashi, who has proved Postecoglou’s finest signing but had been in doubt for the final with a hamstring injury.
“A fantastic player – but what a person,” Postecoglou said.
“He just had it in his mind he was going to play. We were thinking it won’t happen, but he just made himself available even though he’s not 100 per cent.
“To be honest, I don’t know how he did it today.
“This football club and him are a match made in heaven.”
Furuhashi’s magic touch has been evident since he was spotted by the formerly Japan-based Postecoglou, who brought him to Parkhead in the summer.
He was the man to make the difference after a pretty dismal first half when, straight after Hanlon’s goal, Furuhashi slotted home a left-foot finish.
Then Rogic, who’s been in scintillating form since returning from injury and was second only to Furuhashi as Celtic’s stand-out player, was quick to take a free-kick after Hanlon had fouled Liel Abada and picked out the Japanese striker expertly.
The goal sparked more lusty renditions of Celtic fans’ new favourite festive song, their own version of the Wham hit ‘Last Christmas’, which offers the classic line: “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, and the very next day you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I’ll give it to Postecoglou…”
It left the Aussie smiling.
“These fans are everything, mate,” he said.
“My first task when I took the role was I wanted to give them hope.
“I couldn’t guarantee them success, I couldn’t guarantee anything but I wanted to give them hope – and I think they saw that from the first day.”