DESPITE hailing from afar, Ange Postecoglou has always stressed that he has a keen awareness of Celtic’s history. As manager, he also has an acute sense of how delivering trophies will shape his own place within that history.

Tomorrow, Postecoglou will lead Celtic to Hampden to try and lift the first silverware of his reign, and at the first attempt too.

Should they defeat Hibernian and lift the League Cup, he knows that the achievement won’t elevate him into the pantheon of greats who have previously held his position, but it could be the first step on that road. For Postecoglou, it will also be an important justification for him being in his position in the first place.

As he considers those who have gone before him, the Australian doesn’t so much see bringing success to Celtic as part of the job description, but as his responsibility.

“It’s an honour for me just to be in this position looking at the people who have graced this position before me,” Postecoglou said. “I think that’s where the privilege lies for me.

“Sunday is more of a responsibility than a privilege, because when you do take this position that’s what you are expected to do, get this football club to the big occasions and bring success to it. That’s the precedent set by the people [who have managed the club before].

“I feel privileged every day that I’m in this position. On Sunday I’ll feel the responsibility of trying to bring success to this football club, and continuing the great traditions of the managers of the past.”

The relentless pursuit of success on all fronts has meant that the League Cup Final has been playing second fiddle to Premiership business for Postecoglou since they defeated St Johnstone in last month’s semi-final.

But now that the day is almost here, he admits a sense of excitement is building about the opportunity that lies ahead of him and his players.

“I think because of what we’ve been through, the challenges we’ve had in terms of injuries and so many games, it’s served us well to keep the head down and focus on the next fixture,” he said.

“Coming in [on Friday] though, this was our first day after the Ross County game, and we can start preparing for the final.

“The excitement is there and I’m looking forward to it. It’s why I came to this football club, to hopefully create some success and some memories for it. This is the first opportunity.

“I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the semi-final at Hampden, and I’m sure the game on Sunday will be a fantastic occasion.

“As I said, it’s an opportunity to have success, that’s why I came, and I’m immensely looking forward to it.”

Curiously, despite winning leagues as a manager, this would be Postecoglou’s first domestic cup success as a manager should Celtic go on and lift the trophy.

That’s not to say though that he has no experience of the one-off big occasion, with the unusual – in football terms at least – way that the league is decided in his homeland giving him plenty of experience of how to handle winner-takes-all matches.

“In Australia, the league is decided by one game,” he explained.

“I won two championships as a player and four as a manager and all of them were done in a final game. There’s a final system there, you play a Grand Final and that’s how you win.

“The championships have all come in big games for me. My success has mainly been in one-off games. Japan was the first time I’d won a league on a home-and-away basis.

“All the other success, even the Asian Cup with the national team, was done in a one-off game. “That’s been my experience and out of all of them, I’ve only lost one, the last one I had in Japan. We lost the League Cup in my first year in Yokohama, 1-0, and that was the first time I hadn’t tasted success in a big game so it was certainly an experience.

“One thing I know about big games is that all of them have had some sort of unexpected twist within them. Something that will test you. I’ve got no doubt Sunday will be the same.

“I’m looking forward to that. I’ve always loved the big games. It’s a bit unusual but in Australia that’s how your champions get decided, so I’m well-versed in what they mean.

“I do enjoy that, because it’s what I’ve been brought up in. It’s how we decide our champions, in all our sports in Australia. Aussie rules, rugby, they’re all decided in one-off games - it’s just the nature of sport in Australia.

“Because I’ve grown up in it, I’ve loved them. They are always big occasions, your whole season is on the line for 90 minutes which to some people sounds bizarre, but it’s just the way it was.

“I loved the fact that everything got decided in 90 or 120 minutes or, on at least two occasions, on penalties. I love that theatre of a big game.”

There was relief from Postecoglou that tomorrow, the Hampden theatre will be full, with creeping Covid-19 restrictions caused by the Omicron variant not yet extending to locking fans out of football grounds once more.

While respecting the need to protect the public, Postecoglou doesn’t underestimate how much such occasions mean to the Celtic supporters.

“We live in interesting times and it’s a challenging one for all sorts of people,” he said. “We know the virus is spreading and impacting on all walks of life, but at the same time we’ve come to understand, particularly with what they’ve gone through in the last couple of years, people still want to live their lives.

“It’s a fine balance and all you can do is hope that everyone who goes has been vaccinated or at least tests negative before they get into the ground, and they do all the right things when they get in there.

“Ultimately, it’s about safety and health. But with football and sport in general, people think it’s just another form of entertainment, but I know it’s not. Particularly our football club, this is generational support. This is people’s way of life. They are not just fans of this football club, this football club means a great deal to them - it’s an extension of their own family.

“It would be very difficult to deny them that opportunity. They went through that last year. It’s a fine balancing act, but my hope, wish and prayers are that everyone comes and enjoys the game, and leaves healthy and safe.”