What is the 'Celtic Way' and what does the term mean?
Celtic have christened the refurbished main thoroughfare into Celtic Park as the ‘Celtic Way’, a mood-lit 150-yard right of way dominated by a statue of former captain Billy McNeill clasping the European Cup in 1967, that leads from London Road into a 60,000-capacity football cathedral in Glasgow’s East End. To millions of fans of the club worldwide, the Celtic Way is the very essence of the Scottish champions, the spirit to which all Celtic teams should aspire.
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It is a sort of mythical phrase that continues to be celebrated by supporters in the old terracing song that starts out as an ode to the club’s first manager Willie Maley, a man appointed in 1897 and the winner of a whopping 16 Scottish titles over five decades. The Newry-born Irishman is a figure the Carnlough-raised Northern Irishman Brendan Rodgers has followed into folklore as only Celtic’s 18th manager in 128 years. He describes his calling in life as his "dream" job. He is already well clued up on what over 50,000 season ticket holders expect from here on in.

Brendan Rodgers is paraded at Celtic Park.

Image credit: Eurosport

[STORY: Celtic appoint Brendan Rodgers as new manager]

The concept of playing the Celtic Way is the ideal of delivering entertaining, expansive, all-out attacking, winning football. It was probably best instilled in the club’s DNA by Jock Stein, and Celtic’s European Cup-winning side of 1967, the first British club side to lift the club game’s biggest tournament famously described by the venerable sports writer Hugh McIlvanney as “a Glasgow and District Select”.

Brendan Rodgers embraces Neil Lennon during his days as Celtic manager.

Image credit: Eurosport

It was coined due to the remarkable achievement of 11 Scots living within the confines of Scotland’s biggest city conquering a continent by slaying a redoubtable Inter Milan side in Lisbon. It is a feat that has never been and will never be replicated by any side in the world game as Celtic swept all before them in Scotland and in Europe with an ensemble cast of local lads.
I signed in '55 and my dad said to me out on the park, I was 16 years of age," said Bertie Auld, a member of the team who won the European Cup with such a distinctive style. "Listen Bertie, see if you can play and entertain, this support will never ever forget you.
Like most of the world’s most iconic clubs, and you would include Celtic alongside the names of Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid in terms of appeal if not luxuriating in such levels of finance, there is a constant demand to live up to what your forefathers achieved. This is what appeals to managers like Rodgers, a bloke obviously steeped in the tradition of the club, when you are presented with the chance to etch your own legacy in the Dear Green Place.

Celtic fans were awarded FIFA gong for conduct in 2003 UEFA Cup final in Seville.

Image credit: Eurosport

Celtic have and continue to be at a severe disadvantage compared to England due to the simple geography of being based in an impoverished Scottish Premiership that continues to house genuine giants in Celtic and their Glasgow rivals Rangers, clubs with average attendances of well over 50,000 but without the television revenue of the Premier League.
Yet since their definining moment in Lisbon under Stein, Celtic continue to hold an enticement that is not merely financial, but spiritual. It is not as if Rodgers needed to take on such a role with his wage cut from £100,000 at Liverpool to a measly £45,000 per week, according to various media reports.
Since being formed by an Irish priest to help the poor in the East End of Glasgow in 1887, Celtic, with its Irish roots and diaspora, has been more than a football club, it is a cause. It is a focal point for a working-class, good-natured community of fans that are driven by an unyielding expectation to give of your best and be the best you can be when representing your people in the famous hooped jersey.
For many, Celtic continues to provide an escape from the hardship and toils of daily life.

Celtic unveil a statue to former European Cup-winning captain Billy McNeill.

Image credit: Reuters

The iconic shirt, worn by Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain, Jimmy Johnstone, Henrik Larsson and Paddy McCourt, is another aspect of the club’s fascinating background that has no room for cheap imitations. Celtic have endured some poor times, wretched managers and some desperately mediocre players, but the ambition to play the Celtic Way has never waned.
Rodgers will be acutely aware of what playing the Celtic way means. He apparently rejoiced in following the club from his childhood days back in Carnlough with his family all devotees of a place named Paradise.
If it is a standard that was buttressed by Stein, perhaps Rodgers should look to more recent history to see what can be achieved when fighting out of Scotland. The Scottish Premiership might be unfashionable, but being a cheque-book manager is not what Celtic are seeking. A lot of damage can still be done in football if £15m, a figure Rodgers will apparently have to spend, is invested wisely.

Celtic Barcelona papers

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Celtic supporters are seeking a leader of men, and a figure with an aura who can raise the club’s profile in foreign climes. Most notably, by qualifying for the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2013.
The memory of beating Barcelona in 2012 at Celtic Park under Neil Lennon to mark the 125th anniversary of the club are evenings Rodgers will long for.
“It is the best atmosphere in Europe and we all want to experience that again,” said Barcelona's Lionel Messi as recently as last year.
Nobody is expecting Rodgers to become the new Stein during his turn as Celtic manager, perhaps not even a Martin O’Neill who inherited Henrik Larsson and was flush with a level of finance green enough to rival the Premier League at the outset of the millennium while losing to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the 2003 UEFA Cup final in front of 80,000 travelling Celtic fans. But there is the style of his close friend Tommy Burns, one of the club's greatest supporters as a player and manager, and his class of 1995/96 to aspire to.
Rodgers was given his break in football by Burns at Reading in the late 1990s, and is a figure Rodgers describes as his "hero". They remained close friends until Tommy, a truly wonderful man this onlooker had the pleasure of interviewing several times, tragically lost his fight with cancer eight years ago. The legacy of the iconic Burns lives on at Celtic in Rodgers, who is well aware of the style of attacking play that Burns demanded of his teams and team-mates.
Ask any Celtic supporter which manager produced the finest attacking brand of football since Stein, and many will say Burns in 1996 when they were narrowly beaten to the Scottish title by a terrific Rangers side boasting Paul Gascoigne and Brian Laudrup at their peak.

Tommy Burns celebrates winning the 1995 Scottish Cup as Celtic manager.

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Burns landed Celtic only one trophy as Celtic manager, the Scottish Cup in 1995, but he was feted by the fans because his side produced a brand of football that was thrilling in its energy, rawness and a joyful sense of adventure that contained weird and wonderful figures such as Pierre van Hooijdonk, Paolo Di Canio and Jorge Cadete.
As Rodgers' predecessor Ronny Deila discovered, it is not merely enough to win titles, Celtic are up to five straight in Scotland, you have to win and entertain.
Celtic owner Dermot Desmond, a billionaire businessman who does not fund such ventures without great attention, deserves huge credit for appointing a man who was the Premier League manager of the year in 2014. Faced by the largesse over the border, it is an astonishing appointment in every sense with more than a few commentators in England wondering how Celtic pulled off such a coup. In another sense, it should be deemed the norm.
While Rodgers is probably a dream appointment for Celtic, it also a remarkable moment in the Northern Irishman's personal life, who said: "Celtic is one of the most famous football clubs in the world, one which enjoys the fantastic support of so many people."

Celtic's 1967 European Cup-winning side.

Image credit: Eurosport

Even for a bloke who was Liverpool manager less than nine months ago, Celtic have proved an irresistible pull for a figure who could have earned more elsewhere without the level of prestige his new role provides.
Rodgers has swapped a Mersey Paradise for Paradise and he is only 43. But just as the Celtic version of You'll Never Walk Alone is hardly inferior to the stirring Anfield rendition, he is not taking a step down by swapping Liverpool for Celtic.
As he has already discovered before a magnetic tickertape of green and white scarves. There is a burning, collective desire for Rodgers to be as well liked, respected and revered as his old mate Burns, a man of the people and for his people.

Brendan Rodgers on his first day as Celtic manager.

Image credit: Eurosport

Rodgers suddenly has a vocation in life than merely another manager's job.
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