- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) - Brendan Rodgers was hired as the new coach of Scottish champion Celtic on Friday, sealing a return to soccer management seven months after being fired by Liverpool.

“I have followed Celtic all my life,” Rodgers said after agreeing on a 12-month rolling contract, “and to be given this fantastic opportunity and to be part of such a truly great football club is a dream come true.”

The 43-year-old Rodgers is replacing Ronny Deila, who has left after guiding Celtic to its fifth straight Scottish league title.

His first season at Parkhead will coincide with the return to the Scottish top flight of Rangers, Celtic’s fierce Glasgow rival, after its spell in the lower leagues for financial mismanagement.

“We wanted to bring one of the biggest and best names to the club to match our own aspirations and those of our supporters. We believe, in appointing Brendan, that we have done this,” Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said. “We have appointed a special manager and we are sure he can bring some special times to Celtic.”

Rodgers was heralded as one of British soccer’s brightest coaches when guiding Liverpool to a second-place finish in the Premier League in 2014. Liverpool nearly won the title that year, which would have ended a 24-year wait for the league trophy.

Rodgers was admired for his style of football, his tactical awareness, and his insistence on giving youth - and domestic players - a chance, but Liverpool slumped in the following 18 months because of poor signings and the departure of key players like Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard.

He was fired in October.

Rodgers’ first task is to keep Celtic as the top team in Scotland in the season Rangers returns to the big time. He is also tasked with improving Celtic’s fortunes in Europe, having missed out on qualifying for the Champions League group stage this season.

“I can’t wait to be in paradise with our team and our fans as we all get to work,” Rodgers said.

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