WITH Tom Rogic’s skill-set more Copacabana than his native Canberra, the gifted Celtic player has the world at his feet.

The Australian midfielder became a Celtic icon last season, scoring the dramatic goal which beat Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup to secure the Treble, and this season he has continued in the same vein, with crucial contributions in three encounters with Rangers.

The 25-year-old netted the opening goal in both Ladbrokes Premiership victories at Ibrox, and in the Scottish Cup semi-final success a fortnight ago. The way Rogic changed feet, from preferred left to right, to leave his markers floundering before scoring, was the perfect advert for his talent.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is keen for Rogic to extend his contract, which expires in June 2019, but he acknowledges that the Australian will attract even greater interest from other clubs in England and Europe once he performs for his country in the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

Rogic has already created a huge name for himself at Celtic Park, having come a long way, both physically and mentally, since joining from Central Coast Mariners in 2013. Being jettisoned by Australia just before the 2014 World Cup finals, when he had travelled to Brazil for a pre-tournament squad, was a set-back which only made Rogic stronger.

Ironically, Brazil helped pave the way for Rogic’s sublime football. Not sand, but concrete. He played ‘futsal’ – the essential Brazilian game – and even represented Australia at it. It is a background Rogic shares with a poor kid from a Rio, whom Rodgers managed at Liverpool.

“Yes, Philippe Coutinho, was a futsal player,” said Rodgers of the midfielder who joined Barcelona last January. “For the young players at Liverpool, we did a split-screen of Philippe when he was 10 or 11 playing futsal and he was virtually exactly the same as a 19 or 20-year-old. That was his game, manipulating the ball, the confidence it gave him, how you receive the ball. The ball’s a bit softer in futsal so you can manipulate it.

“Tom has size 14 feet, so how he works the ball around plates that size is even more incredible. That’s what people won’t recognise, but his feet are soft and he’s got a great view of the game. And he likes to score goals.

“What I like about Tom is that he’s got a real inward aggression. He’s not timid. I’ve seen him become stronger physically in his time here, more robust.

“Tom is the best player at understanding where the space is and that allows him to receive the ball better than anyone. His reception skills are amazing. He has the brain to find space, we see it in training every day and that’s why he’s so elusive in games. He’s difficult to pin down because he can find the space. He’s highly-gifted, technically.

“Tom is a really special talent and the mark of the big players is the big games and the big contributions and he’ll always be in the history books here at Celtic because of his big contribution.”

Rodgers’ own vision for Celtic’s progress, certainly includes Rogic. The manager is keen for the playmaker – who netted against Germany last summer for Australia in the Confederations Cup – to shine again on Russian soil, and then sign a new deal with Celtic.

“I’ve spoken to Tom a number of times and I am quite relaxed on it,” Rodgers said. “He knows I’d love him to be here but, rightly so, he has to think of everything. If it was purely football, of course, he loves the club.

“He’s been here five years now and he knows what he has here but his next contract is a big decision for him and his wife. They are both Australian, so they need to have a think about where they want to be. I know they love being here. He’s got a World Cup to concentrate on and we’ll see what happens after that.

“It’s a wonderful experience for him, to go and be involved in that tournament, being out there and around top players will give him confidence. It’s probably been an ambition for him all his life and they’re there.

“What happened in 2014 shows you his resilience because sometimes that could knock a player. So, to come out of that trauma – going to Brazil and not being selected – gives you that determination, which is important. You need that drive and, thankfully for Celtic, he’s shown that.”

Rodgers was also asked if he would offer any advice to his other former Liverpool player, Steven Gerrard, if he became Rangers manager.

“If Stevie gets the job then, of course, I would give him any advice that he would ever want,” Rodgers said.