So farewell then Tom Rogic, scorer of many a great goal, but surely none will ever be as iconic as the one he netted to seal the Invincible Treble of 16-17. The kind of run, late in the game, that he was supposed to be incapable of, throwing his marker off balance with an almost imperceptible movement and an improbable near post finish that wouldn’t have occurred to almost any other player.
Then again you could say his last minute winner at Rugby Park – an inch perfect top corner shot from 25 yards to win after a desperate performance – was pretty special.
Or his outside of the box curling equaliser at Ibrox in 2018.
Even his far too cool for school equaliser there in 2022 displayed a level of calm utterly beyond most players.
Tom Rogic was our X factor, a guy who, like Lubo, Naka and McCourt before him, saw the game at right angles and made passes, shimmies and shots that were beyond even the imagination, never mind the ability level, of most other players.
He arrived from Australia in Lennon’s first spell, but save for a few cameo performances was largely a peripheral figure, even being loaned back to the Melbourne Victory in Australia for a spell to work on his fitness.
That didn’t really work out. He came back more injured than he was when he left.
When he finally got back in the starting line up under Ronnie it was his first start for Celtic in almost two years. Obviously he scored a ridiculous goal that no one else could even dream of, catching a ball that was behind him – on the volley – and putting it in the corner. He kicked on and started to show some signs of his talent.
His first touch was outstanding, probably the best at the club, and he had a knack of getting away from seemingly impossible situations with the ball intact and his opponent bewildered.
He developed an almost telepathic understanding with Forrest. Take a look back at the footage from around that time and see the number of times they are the assist for each other. It is unbelievable.
But his stamina was still a concern and if things got too physical he could be pushed out of the game.
Then we changed our manager in 2016 and whatever he did Rogic moved up a gear. From useful assistant he suddenly became a main feature.
Against Manchester City in the Champions League at Celtic Park he was phenomenal. In big games he was delivering (goals in both cup finals of the Invincible season and a superb last minute winner at Fir Park) and he also developed into that most wonderful of things – a real Orc skelper. He managed the Celtic Park, Hampden, Mordor goal hat-trick in three games against them in spring 2018.
That summer, to the surprise and delight of the support, he signed a long term deal before the World Cup finals under Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglu. Unfortunately, as so often happens, that was then followed by a series of injuries that hampered him and us in the following season.
By the time he returned as a regular the manager had changed (no need to dwell on that) and the guy who signed him in the first place was back. But for season 19/20 (before it was curtailed) he was again an injury victim. He made only 16 league appearance and was only on the bench for the League Cup final.
He scored our final goal of that season, a last minute equaliser at Livingston that meant the team that had emerged from the winter shutdown trailing in second place had recorded nine wins and a draw, racking up 28 points to open up a double digit lead at the top.
In a purely sporting sense it is a shame that season was cut short. We were playing some excellent stuff and seemed to be on an upward trend.
The following season? The injury fairy was still there, but even more damaging was the managerial decision making. We crashed and burned.
Then Ange came in, a guy who knew Rogic well, trusted him and knew how to get the most from him.
The highest number of appearances he ever made for us in a single season, the POTY award and some truly inspirational and memorable stuff. The obvious highlights were his goal of the season at Tannadice, weaving and out of countless defenders before sweeping the ball into the corner, his equaliser at Ibrox and his inch perfect pass to Kyogo for the winner in the League Cup final.
The announcement that he was leaving a year early was a surprise, but all parties seemed happy with it. The even bigger surprise is that no one picked him up immediately.
We wished him all the best for the future and thanked him for all the moments of magic he gave us.
He left with 6 x League winners medals and 5 from both cup competitions.
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