History is on the line for Celtic in the Cup final

This Hoops have already been writing their name into the annals as Graham Ruthven reports

Brendan Rodgers

Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/PA Images

It’s a short trip from Parkhead to Celtic Park, roughly around 10 minutes by car.

But when Celtic make the journey to Scotland's national stadium on Saturday for the Scottish Cup final they will follow the path forged by some of the greatest sides ever to wear the famous Hoops. Beat Aberdeen and they will be Treble winners, completing an unbeaten domestic season. Without a hint of hyperbole, it’s fair to say history is on the line.

Indeed, after just one year in the job Brendan Rodgers has the look of a true Celtic legend. The Northern Irishman arrived with plenty expectation heaped on his broad shoulders, with 13,000 fans turning out just to see him unveiled as manager at Celtic Park last summer. But he has delivered on everything asked of him so far, and more.

All this just so happens to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions’ European Cup triumph. The tributes have been flowing this week, evoking memories of the time Celtic conquered all of Europe, but a Treble win on the back of an unbeaten domestic campaign would be the most fitting tribute of them all.

“I’m not so sure it will happen again in my lifetime,” Rodgers said when asked to sum up the achievement of an unbeaten league season. “You just need to look at when it was done before – in the 1890s and it was only an 18-game season. It’s very fitting that the team could honour the Lisbon Lions’ 50th anniversary by playing in a way which is synonymous with that great Celtic team. That’s important.

“It’s an incredible club and a special feeling I have here, being a supporter. It doesn’t take away from the professional aspect of the job and how much is focused on our vision which is to win titles and play with a charisma and quality which makes the supporters proud.”

Rodgers’ greatest achievement since arriving in Glasgow can only be measured in the improvement of the team as a whole, but that has been distinguished by the remarkable performances of a number of individuals. Scott Sinclair, for instance, has been in sparkling form this season, with Moussa Dembele, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong and James Forrest among others also demonstrating their own individual quality.

Another name who deserves mentioned, particularly on the basis of recent form, is Patrick Roberts. Saturday’s Scottish Cup final is set to be his final game for Celtic having spent the past 18 months on loan from Manchester City. The former Fulham winger has found himself on the bench for much of that loan spell, playing second fiddle to a revitalised Forrest and new summer signing Sinclair.

Celtic's Patrick Roberts (left) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Jeff Holmes/PA Wire/PA Images

It’s only over the past two months or so that Roberts has come to the fore. He has contributed throughout the season as an impact sub or in rotation of the squad, but the 20-year-old has truly shown what he is capable of recently, scoring four times in his last four appearances. As Roberts applauded the home fans on what could be his final appearance at Celtic Park, they chanted "sign him up" back.

There have been whisperings of a permanent deal potentially being struck for Roberts, although this seems to be based on little more than social media chatter. More likely is that Celtic will enquire about the possibility of taking the England youth international on another loan contract. That would be the best arrangement for all involved.

With another year at Celtic under Rodgers’ tutelage Roberts could be good enough for Pep Guardiola’s Man City squad. He has the profile to appeal to the Catalan coach, after all, being a small, diminutive winger boasting intelligence and goal threat. Rodgers has got the best out of several of his squad and now appears to be doing the same with Roberts.

The only problem is his loan spell will end just as he is finding his groove. Another virtuoso performance in the Scottish Cup final might persuade all concerned parties that Roberts is better off where he is for a whole longer.