For those blissfully unaware of this story allow me to recount it. It involves Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and the human touch.

The recipient of it just happened to be yours truly. Back in October 2017, a night was held in the Glasgow Hydro as Rodgers promoted his autobiography, 'The Road to Paradise'. Presented by Eamonn Holmes in the form of a Q&A, it was a cracking occasion.

Beforehand, the assembled press had interviewed Rodgers about an upcoming Champions League tie. We were also privileged to be given a copy of the book and we were asked if we wanted Rodgers to sign it.

It was an open goal for me. My father's football hero was Jock Stein. I had never heard him wax lyrical about any Celtic manager and mention him in the same breath as Stein until Rodgers came along. My father believed Rodgers was of Stein's ilk. My father is my hero - sporting or otherwise. So that was high praise indeed.

I approached Rodgers with a copy of his autobiography in hand.

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"Hi Brendan, can you sign this for me and write: "To Danny, and just write 'Commitment' underneath it. Thank you. My father will understand what that means and it will mean a lot to him."

"You're not leaving me hanging like that Tony. What's the significance of the word 'Commitment'? Why 'Commitment'?

I proceeded to tell Rodgers that in the late 1970s and 1980s, my father ran Millerfield, one of Scottish amateur football's most successful sides. They were a bunch of lifelong school friends - a mixture of Celtic and Rangers supporters - who had all grown up together and who hailed from the Dalmarnock/Bridgeton areas which were situated a free-kick away from Celtic Park.

I told him the motto of the team was 'Commitment'. That was all my father asked of his players to show 'Commitment' to the team and the Millerfield cause. I thought nothing of it but Rodgers was charmed by my revelation. I told him how I bonded with my father over football as my childhood consisted of watching both Millerfield and Celtic. He loved that.

He told me to pull up a chair and we spoke for 20 minutes about a team that he had never heard of before this conversation. It was a wonderful moment in sport. I gave him a potted history of the team. He seemed enchanted by the tale and congratulated my dad on his own trophy success with the 'Field.

His parting shot to me was this: "Tony, tell your dad this one thing from me. See that one-word motto 'Commitment', it is so apt. From one football manager to another, tell Danny, I love that. Without 'Commitment' from the players, you don't have a football team. Thanks for sharing that."

That conversation came flooding back to me as I stood in the press room at Rugby Park on Wednesday night as the media congratulated him on securing Celtic's 54th title. Their 12th in 13 seasons and their third successive championship.

Rodgers had been true to his word - he did say he would see everybody in May and he did it the hard way this season. His return to Paradise was first questioned at every level by Celtic supporters before sections of the media, ex-players and pundits alike lined up to have a pop at him.

My faith in Rodgers never wavered. I took stick for penning a piece after back-to-back defeats in December to Kilmarnock and Hearts when it is fair to say that Celtic were wobbling. In the face of all the adversity, I took stick for labelling him an elite-level coach. He is. Rodgers is a top-level operator on so many levels.

Of course, I dished out criticism this season, but it was always measured, balanced and fair. I knew the sort of man that I was talking about and I knew what he is made of.

He proved it this season and then some. Yet at Rugby Park following on from his 'novice' barb, the week before he issued these comments: "I think every season you have is a learning season and there are all the things flying about. Things like ‘he’s never been in a pressure situation’ or ‘he’s never had this challenge before’ and all these things that get thrown at you but I never doubt. I have complete faith in my work and what I do and it was just about timing and we came through when it mattered."

It was the phrase: "I have complete faith in my work", that did it. Look at the masterful way Rodgers has handled the 2023/24 campaign. He brushed aside those penning different narratives telling everybody that Celtic would write their own story. They did.

He skilfully addressed the issue of VAR and 'incompetent refereeing' that day at Tynecastle when his side lost 2-0. There was no out-of-control ranting. It was statesmanlike.

Celtic Way:

I stated many times that Celtic's biggest asset in the title race was Rodgers. Compare and contrast the way he gracefully negotiated the pressure of the race for the league flag with his opposite number Phillipe Clement at Ibrox. Rodgers won the mind games, won the battle and triumphed in the war .


He had the 'Commitment' of the most important people at the football club - the players and his staff. He got the buy-in from everybody on day one. Rodgers has a natural way with people. He has a natural way with players. He radiates warmth, coolness, calmness, and confidence. The human touch with the Celtic players is what helped guide his team over the line in the final reckoning.

READ MORE: Why Celtic sacking Brendan Rodgers is not the answer

Rodgers unified everybody at the club. There has been one hell of a Celtic reconnect between the manager, players and faithful this season and it is all down to one man. His masterful human touch has also earned another chance for the hierarchy to finally back their elite-level manager in the transfer market.

What's needed now is a recalibration. A new Champions League format should mean a new Celtic.  Being successful in the European arena is the box that remains unticked. Rodgers is the man to take the club to the next level. That's why last summer, I was always on board when Rodgers returned. I had complete faith in his work. You could say I showed total 'Commitment' to a man who had earned it.