FOOTBALL: Chance in a million for Linfield players

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers

David Healy played against Celtic while he was with Rangers for a season, but he knows for a Linfield player the opportunity to face the Scots is a rare one.

Linfield will meet Scottish Premier League champions Celtic in the Champions League second round qualifying with the first leg being staged at Windsor Park on Friday night (5pm).

Pacemaker Press Belfast 10-07-2017: Linfield manager David Healy, Linfield chairman Roy McGivern and Vice-Chairman. Jonathan Wilson pictured during a press conference at Windsor Park ahead of their clash with Celtic in a Champions League qualifier 
Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Pacemaker Press Belfast 10-07-2017: Linfield manager David Healy, Linfield chairman Roy McGivern and Vice-Chairman. Jonathan Wilson pictured during a press conference at Windsor Park ahead of their clash with Celtic in a Champions League qualifier Picture By: Arthur Allison.

The Irish League champions will travel to Parkhead, Glasgow, for the second leg on July 19.

And while Healy is realistic about the size of the task ahead this week, he urged his players to go out and enjoy the occasion.

“They might never get this opportunity again,” said Healy, and joked: “I can’t imagine we will play them in too many friendlies.

“To have the opportunity to play a Champions League match against a club the size of Celtic, and the stature of Glasgow Celtic, should be an occasion to relish and enjoy.

“My group are looking forward to this challenge.

“It will be huge both here and in Glasgow . I just hope on Friday night we don’t go out and end up a rabbit in the headlights.

“That’s my only concern about Friday’s game.

“The away game will look after itself, so I am not too worried about that game.

“Celtic will deserve the utmost respect, but if we show them too much respect then we will end up more or less watching the game, instead of competing,” he added.

Former Carnlough man Brendan Rodgers is currently manager at Celtic and Healy said they were coming into the game off the back off an incredible season having gone through their domestic programme undefeated.

“It was incredible. For Celtic to achieve what they did, and finish their domestic season unbeaten, is phenomenal.

“They were dubbed the Invincibles, and they proved that last year.

“They had a couple of draws late on in the season, but Brendan was maybe freshening things up ahead of the cup final.

“They don’t have one or two threats, they have six or seven depending on what team is picked.

“I watch enough Scottish football to know what is in their dressing room, and we are aware of the threat they pose.

“Brendan has done a fantastic job there. I am a big fan and always have been. Since Brendan was at Swansea.

“I played against him numerous times as a player when he was at Swansea and he always played football the right way.

“He took it onto Liverpool and almost won the title. Liverpool hadn’t won the title in something like 30 years, and he nearly broke that run.

“Now he seems to have found his home in Glasgow. I am sure he supported Celtic as a young boy, as the previous manager Neil Lennon would have done.

“They are getting the opportunity to manage a team they have a lot of affiliation for, a lot similar to myself.”