Celtic's title party soured as Samaras says his goodbyes
Celtic 3 Dundee Utd 1
CELTIC'S season ended on a sour note yesterday when Georgios Samaras said that he was leaving the club because he had not been offered a new contract.
It was expected that the Greece striker would be on his way after six-and-a-half years in the east end of Glasgow, but it was also believed that the three-in-a-row champions would make him an offer to stay.
"I'm leaving – that's for sure – but it was not my decision," said the Greece international.
"I never had an offer from the club. I never had an offer from Peter Lawwell (chief executive). I have been seven years at the club and I would have loved to stay.
"I had a chat with the manager. He would have loved me to stay and I was happy to stay, but me and the gaffer don't make the decisions – there are people higher up.
"I have not spoken to any other club. I was waiting to the end to see if they offered me anything, but that is the end."
Neil Lennon, who watched Samaras score from the spot after coming on as a second-half substitute either side of goals from Anthony Stokes and Kris Commons, had little to say on the matter. "I would imagine his mind is made up," was his only comment.
Lennon watched with pride as skipper Scott Brown was presented with the trophy after the last game of the season which allowed the Northern Irishman to join Willie Maley, Jock Stein and Gordon Strachan in an elite group of Celtic managers who have won three consecutive titles with the Parkhead club.
He said: "It's very special to win any sort of trophy. For a long time in the '80s and '90s it was a struggle for us but now we are very productive in terms of picking up trophies and being successful on and off the field.
"I'm very proud to have joined that select band of Celtic managers. I'm one of the few who have been privileged enough to do this job and when you are here you want to make the most of it.
"We can be pretty proud of what we have achieved in the last four years."
After a lifeless first half, Stokes scored Celtic's 100th league goal of the season in the 64th minute before Samaras scored from the spot after he had been tripped by goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak.
An own goal in the 78th minute by Hoops defender Filip Twardzik, making his first appearance of the season, gave the Taysiders a lifeline but Commons sealed the win with his 32nd goal of the season as the home side finished strongly before joining the fans in celebration.
The title had been clinched at Partick Thistle in March and Lennon's men ended 29 points ahead of second-placed Motherwell.
And with rivals Rangers in continual turmoil off the field, and with no other credible challengers on the horizon, there appears little to stop the Hoops racking up championship wins for years to come.
The Celtic players wore black armbands in tribute to little Oscar Knox, the five-year-old Hoops fan who last week lost his battle to cancer and there was also a round of applause from the supporters in the fifth minute.