Scottish League Cup win justifies struggle, says Craig Gordon
Craig Gordon says lifting the Scottish League Cup with Celtic justified his two-year struggle to return to football after a career-threatening knee injury.
It was only the 32-year-old goalkeeper's second piece of silverware despite a distinguished career.
"It's been a long road back for me personally to get to this and it's very special," he told BBC Scotland.
"I've given everything I had to get back to this level and I'm going to enjoy this."
Gordon, who spent five injury-hit years with Sunderland, has recently been a linked with a return to the English top-flight as Chelsea consider possible replacements for the departing Petr Cech.
But the Scot, who helped Hearts win the Scottish Cup in 2006, admits there were times when he did not expect to play football again.
"I desperately wanted to do that, but whether I ever thought it would come again, I probably had my doubts," he said after Sunday's 2-0 win over Dundee United at Hampden Park.
However, Gordon joined Celtic in the summer as a replacement for Southampton-bound Fraser Forster and his form led to a 41st Scotland cap against England in November.
"It has been fantastic," he said. "What a day to come out and win a cup final."
Celtic, who drew 1-1 with United in the Scottish Cup quarter final a week earlier, now face United again in Wednesday's replay and then in the Premiership on Saturday as they chase a domestic treble.
It was the second game in a row when United ended the game with one fewer player than their opponents.
"They did very well with 10 - and with nine in the last game as well - so they are a very difficult team to play against and difficult to break down," said Gordon.
"But we managed to do it on a couple of occasions and enough to just about control the second half.
"They are a very dangerous side and, on any given day, they are capable of beating us, so we have to make sure we on top of our game come Wednesday again."
Gordon praised manager Ronny Deila for overcoming a testing start to his Celtic career after arriving from Stromsgodset in the summer.
"He is very calm," added the goalkeeper. "He has his style of play and it took a wee while to begin with, but now everybody knows what their jobs are and he's been fantastic.
"He's a good character, the fans have taken to him as well and it's a very good place to be at the moment."