As a boy, Brendan Rodgers always dreamed of one day playing for Celtic FC – and now the Carnlough man has achieved the next best thing.
There was a real buzz around the village this week as its most famous son was confirmed as the new Hoops boss, replacing Ronny Deila on a 12-month rolling contract.
As news of Rodgers’ appointment began to filter through on Friday evening, Carnlough residents were quick to show their support.
Gary Morgan, of Carnlough Celtic Travel Club said local fans “can’t wait for the new season to start”.
“Most of us grew up with Brendan Rodgers. He is just known around here as Fudgie” he added.
“We used to play football with him in the car park or behind St John’s Primary school. I was in his class at primary school and when the teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Fudgie would say ‘a rally driver or to play for Celtic.’
“We were very proud when he managed Liverpool but there are even more Celtic fans in Carnlough and the place is just buzzing.”
Jonny Mulholland of Carnlough’s Waterfall Bar said there was a “real party atmosphere” in the village over the weekend.
He added: “Brendan has gone between two of the biggest clubs in the world; he is up in the elite ranks of world famous managers.
“I believe Brendan can get Celtic back to its days of challenging the very best in teams in Europe. He won’t look to sign big names initially, but will focus more on his strong youth policy. Hopefully he will be given the time he needs to build up his squad.”
Raymond Hunt of the Londonderry Arms Hotel said: “The real winner in all of this is Carnlough. Brendan has once again put us on the map. Everyone here is very pleased for him and I wish him every success in his future at Celtic.”
Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan also congratulated Rodgers on his appointment.
The East Antrim MLA said: “I was at school with his late father and know the family well. I know that everybody in Carnlough is immensely proud of Brendan and his sporting achievements.
“He has had a high profile career to date managing top flight clubs and there will be significant interest locally as he takes charge of Celtic.
“Brendan is a great ambassador for Carnlough and I will be keeping a keen eye on his career and wish him every success in the future.”
The former Liverpool manager’s first task at Celtic will be to guide his team through the qualifying stages for the Champions League, but he will also have to fend off the challenge presented by Rangers on their return to the top flight.
Speaking of his appointment, Rodgers said: “I have followed Celtic all my life and to be given this fantastic opportunity and to be part of such a truly great football club is a dream come true.”