The Irishman finally put an end to any uncertainty over his future by signing a three-year deal yesterday, capping a splendid spell in which he has established himself in Neil Lennon's preferred XI. The striker marked his return from an irksome ankle injury with a man of the match performance in last season's William Hill Scottish Cup final win against Hibernian and has carried that form into this term, assuming the burden of goalscoring left by the departure of Gary Hooper. The 25-year-old has scored five times this campaign and, furthermore, created James Forrest's goal that confirmed Celtic's place in the Champions League group stages.
Lennon was keen to secure Stokes after he hinted he might speak to other clubs in January but the striker was delighted to put the speculation behind him. "I'm absolutely delighted and I'm just looking forward to the next few seasons," said Stokes, who has scored 53 goals in 120 games. "I'm just glad to get it out of the way and I can concentrate on my football.
"I've been happy enough with the way it's gone for me this season. I'd have liked a few more goals but that'll come. We're unbeaten in the league, we've been doing reasonably well in Europe and we need to get another couple of results now after that win over Ajax. Overall, I'm delighted. I'm enjoying my football and I'm hoping this just helps me kick on.
"It's been great to be involved in Europe after being injured last season. It was hard to watch the lads doing well and not have any input. I knew this was going to be a big season for me because I knew I had to come back after missing the majority of last season and I needed to come back strong and thankfully I've started the season reasonably well."
The former Arsenal, Sunderland and Hibernian striker recently won a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad following the exit of Giovanni Trapattoni, who he had fallen out of favour with, and played in their final two World Cup qualifiers.