ANGE Postecoglou last night paid an emotional tribute to the supporters who backed him when his appointment as Celtic manager was ridiculed after leading the Parkhead club to a historic eighth treble.
Postecoglou’s team, who had already lifted the Viaplay Cup and cinch Premiership this season, beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-1 in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden yesterday.
Fans of the Glasgow giants are desperate for the Greek-Australian coach, who has been linked with the vacancy at Spurs in recent days, to remain in the East End.
The 58-year-old, who has won five out of six trophies since replacing Neil Lennon back in 2021, refused to commit his future to Celtic when he was quizzed about his intentions following the triumph.
But he singled out the supporters who chanted his name after his captain Callum McGregor had lifted the cup for believing in him when he arrived in this country.
“I have appreciated the support I’ve had from day one because of the way I came into the football club,” he said. “Without beating about the bush I was ‘a joke’. A lot of people made fun of me.
“But the supporters, for their own reasons, put their collective arm around me and said: ‘No he’s one of ours’. It was up to me to repay that faith.
“The reason they felt so close to this team and so close to me was because, while others may have mocked, they stood behind me. I think they deserve a lot of credit for what has happened.
“It would have been easy for our supporters to have been just as sceptical given the reaction to my appointment. That would have made my job a lot tougher, especially in that early period when results weren’t there.
“I think they felt part of my journey here and they deserve to feel good about the fact that while a lot of people ridiculed it, they stood by the person who was representing their football club and that’s what makes them special as supporters.
“For me, I have tried to repay that in my own way by hopefully producing a team that has brought success and that they are going to be proud of. But that for me has always been the most important thing.”
Postecoglou admitted he was proud to join an elite group of Celtic managers, which includes Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill, Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon, who have completed clean sweeps of domestic silverware in the same season.
“I’m very proud of the group and it’s a little bit surreal when you think about what we’ve achieved,” he said.
“Coming off the back of last season when we had unexpected success with a double, there was a gap there - the Scottish Cup.
“The challenge this year was to come back bigger and better like I said to them on the last day.
“I wanted us to improve but that’s easy for me to say. The players have just embraced every challenge and for us to do that, we had to fill the gap. Winning the Scottish Cup does that.
“This club has such an unbelievable history of success and for this group, they’ve got their bit in there now which will be there forever.
“I take enormous pride to get my own little piece of history. When you join this club you understand that it’s a great opportunity but there’s also great responsibility.
“There are certain levels of performance and success you have to deliver. You take that on board so to do something few people have done is pretty special.
“Everything I’ve achieved in my career is special in its own way, but this is one I’m extremely proud of.”
Asked what the future held for him and his team, Postecoglou said: “Before you look ahead you have to enjoy it.
“Everyone has worked hard for this, it’s been a long season. Some of our boys have been to a World Cup and they’re still out there putting it in.
“It’s been a monumental effort. Kyogo (Furuhashi) was barely fit today and he’s now got to go and play for his national team. But his thoughts were just about performing for this club.
“They all deserve to enjoy this, it’s not about what’s next for any of them.
“I said that to them in the dressing-room. They can celebrate this one a little bit harder because tomorrow there’s a holiday for them. So I’ve told them to enjoy it and whatever is next will take care of itself.”