What Brendan Rodgers did after Celtic title party at Parkhead as he names one thing that surprised him most

Brendan Rodgers was back in his house in the early hours of Thursday morning watching a rerun of his side’s sensational surge across the Premiership finishing line at Rugby Park.

But his mind wandered back to a day etched in his mind. Saturday, August 26, 2023. Celtic had just been held at home to a St Johnstone side on the verge of punting Steven MacLean having been dumped out of the Viaplay Cup just six days earlier. There was anger pouring down from the Celtic Park stands, savage headlines in the newspapers and radio phone-ins were ringing off the hook.

Rodgers may have remained a calm figure in public but he knew he was in the eye of a storm. He admits now some of the criticism stung – but he refused to buckle and always kept the faith that others were losing at a rate of knots. And that is what will make this Saturday lunchtime even sweeter when he raises the silverware yet again. Rodgers said: “Listen, I’m not made of wood. We all have feelings, and we are all obviously built in different ways. I feel that I can deal with pressure and those situations, but it still doesn’t make you immune to everything.

“But I think what experience has given me is not to become too emotional with words, and there’s been lots of that. I can trace back to August, whenever the headlines were around that I’m under massive pressure – and this is on August 26.

“That has continued right the way through with various people having their say, and that’s the modern world and this game. But for me, I had to show a mental strength, like the team has had to do. “And eventually, the work that we do, the processes that we have in place, have come through in the end. It has been a challenging season in ways I didn’t think it would be.”

Rodgers is trying hard not to stick two fingers up at the snipers but It’s clear some of the stuff from back then hasn’t been forgotten. The accusation he was going through the motions was mentioned after last week’s Old Firm win over Rangers. And it’s the people who questioned his desire who now have their answer, underline and in bold letters.

Rodgers said: “We had a couple of wee drinks afterwards (on Wednesday), went home, watched the game again, went to bed about 20 to four. It was a long night but a great night, and that's what football is about. It's been a season full of ups and downs but ultimately we came good when it mattered. I think now we're starting to see the real Celtic – probably what people wanted to see at the beginning of the season.

“We weren't quite at that level then for various reasons, but we certainly have been this past couple of months, building towards this period in the season. “That's the most important bit. I suppose it’s satisfying. I feel very satisfied in the work we’ve been able to do.

“It’s surprising a little bit that so many people maybe didn’t see what was happening around the team, that was the biggest surprise for me. And especially having been here before, knowing how my teams operate, knowing how they play, knowing how they attack, knowing that was always the intention.

“It’s not full-out attack. I like to think my teams, if you think of a top boxer, a top boxer isn’t throwing punches all the time, he has to put his guard up now and again and I think my teams are reflective of that. They attack, they’re aggressive, they score goals, we try to defend well. And clearly there was a reason to why it maybe wasn’t functioning the same.

“It certainly wasn’t that I’d lost the hunger, or was going through the motions, or hadn’t the stomach for the fight, which is what some people were saying. That’s people who clearly don’t know me So, it’s been very satisfying, but it’s all about creating a habit and the players have been brilliant in creating those habits. And eventually, we get our reward.”

Celtic and Rodgers will get their spoils of war on Saturday. It will also be the chance for Celtic fans to salute a modern day hero as keeper Joe Hart prepares for his Parkhead farewell ahead of Hampden next week.

The No.1 is going out on a high but there’s no chance of a late U-turn over his decision to hang up the gloves. Rodgers said: “No, I think it's the time. I have had this before, I had it with Jamie Carragher (at Liverpool). Jamie was my best centre-half at 35 years of age.

“But by the end he was ready, he was going into his role on Sky Sports, and he finished on a high. Joe is exactly the same, he will have a successful career outside of what he is doing, but he is finishing it in the way that you would want to as a player – going out strong, going out a winner.

“Joe will be sorely missed because he is a good guy. And I know after he finishes he will look back on this spell and see it as a huge positIve for him. He is loved and adored by the supporters, they see he is a genuine guy who has given his all to Celtic.

“Let's hope in these next couple of games we can finish off his story and he can go off into the sunset a successful and legendary Celt.”