There is perhaps no greater example of the toil and sacrifice that had to be made for Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic side to secure their place in the annals of Scottish football history than the resurgence of Dedryck Boyata.

When out of the team and out of the picture at Parkhead at the beginning of the season, the big defender famously knuckled down to a punishing fitness regime, including a 1am workout at Lennoxtown, to force his way back into his manager’s plans.

Since he succeeded in doing just that around the turn of the year, he hasn’t looked back, and again took his place at the heart of the Celtic defence alongside Jozo Simunovic as the Hoops secured the Scottish Cup in Saturday’s gripping final.

His willingness to invest in his own improvement was undoubtedly a major factor behind working his way into his manager’s favour, even if Rodgers didn’t quite believe his tale of training into the wee small hours at first.

“I came into the training ground at 11pm, but only because I live 10 minutes away,” Boyata said. “I had a late session and I was there until one. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true!

“I had to do it because I wasn’t fit enough, and when you don’t play you need to get your fitness. I took the chance I just wanted to work hard for the manager.

“The members of staff didn’t know, they only found out when I had an interview and I told them.

“But I’ve been working very hard and trying to do what the manager has been asking me to, and it has been great.

“At the training ground, there is always a guy there 24 hours a day doing security. It wasn’t the first time. You just come in, ring the bell, and he turns the light on for you until you’re finished.

“Even when I told the story, the backroom staff went and found the security guy to see if I was telling the truth! They write everything down so there you go.”

Boyata, even more than most, can look back on what he and his team have achieved this season with a genuine sense of pride. After the final whistle blew on their remarkable campaign on Saturday evening, he knew it had all been worth it.

“It feels great to have done this, it wasn’t an easy game,” he said.

“The games are always hard but to be in this position – unbeaten all season – is unbelievable.

“If someone had spoken to me six months ago then I couldn’t have seen myself in this position. It’s a great win for myself and the team. I’ve worked so hard to be in this position and it’s a great feeling.”