Lyttle Has Changed At Parkhead
Links between Champions League rivals will the talk of the steamie leading up to their game
Cliftonville have been reacting to the draw for the second qualifying round of the Champions League which paired them with Celtic. First-team coach Gerard Lyttle spent three-and-a-half years with the Glasgow side so knows a bit about Parkhead. Howver, he admits he was left speechless after the draw. Lytte was signed as a youth player in 1994 by former manager Lou Macari but never made it to the first team while with the club. However, he still has a soft spot for SPL champions and cannot wait to see his Belfast side take on the 1967 European champions at Celtic Park on 16 or 17 July.Lyttle said: "It is unbelievable. There are almost no words to describe the draw against Celtic. I was a Celtic player and I'm still a supporter so it is a dream come true. Everyone here is so excited."The Reds sealed their qualifying slot in the Champions League by winning the Danske Bank Premiership but the part-timers from Solitude will be rank outsiders when they travel to Scotland. Former defender Lyttle admitted: "We will be big underdogs and everyone will write us off but we will go there with a game plan and I just hope the players don't get stage fright. We didn't get together for the draw, there were lots of players working but with social media we all soon found out. It is everyone's dream. We had a good season, won the double and got pipped at the post for the treble so this is just the icing on the cake. When the draw was regionalised we knew we had a one in five chance of getting Celtic. We started pre-season on Saturday and will be working most of the week. I don't expect the treatment table to be full. Everyone will be buzzing."Should they overcome Cliftonville, Celtic will have to negotiate two more qualifying rounds to reach the group stage for the second year in succession, where they will hope to equal last season's achievement of reaching the last 16. Lyttle admits the Celtic side Tommy Breslin's men will face is much changed from the club he left more than 15 years ago. He said: "(First-team coach) Danny McGrain is the only one left from my time there, although (former reserve-team coach) Willie McStay has just recently moved on. I have had loads of texts from players I used to play with in Scotland like John Paul McBride and friends. And my dad has been on the phone asking about flights for him and my son Bradley, so it is exciting for me. I still take him over for games when I can. I didn't think I would be back on Celtic Park but I will be preparing a side to play against them, the team I supported from an early age. It was a dream to be associated with Celtic as a professional even though I didn't play a first-team game."
Related Scotland News