BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Anthony Stokes insists Owen Coyle’s faith in him was the key factor in his decision to snub offers in the UK and abroad to join Blackburn Rovers.
The 27-year-old enjoyed a blistering end to the season on loan at Hibernian, turning in a man of the match display and bagging two goals in the 3-2 Scottish Cup final win over Rangers.
However, that wasn’t enough to see him remain at Celtic and he was released following six years and 77 goals for the Premiership champions.
And Coyle has wasted no time in snapping up the Republic of Ireland international, signing Stokes on a three-year deal.
Stokes told the Blackburn Rovers website: “Having a manager that believes in me gives me a lot of confidence and as a striker you need that.
“I had a good chat with the gaffer [Coyle] during the week and was very impressed with him.
“He had only positive things to say about me and I’m just looking forward to bedding in, getting a good pre-season under my belt and the start of the season.
“I met him the other day – I’ve come across him once or twice before but without ever really having a good opportunity to speak to him – and everything he said really sat very well with me and it was very positive.
“I get a feeling for moves a lot of the time and there were different options available, but this time round this seemed like the right move for me.”
Coyle, meanwhile, is adamant he has pulled off a coup by bringing Stokes to Ewood Park.
He added: “He had a number of suitors and we had to beat off a lot of competition from some big clubs for his signature. This is a boy who is a proven goalscorer, he’s a had a terrific career at a very high level and we’ve got him at a very good age.
“He’s coming here hungry and motivated to do well, to continue to his improvement, to score goals and to help Blackburn Rovers be an exciting team.
“Having played in front of 60,000 fans at Celtic, he’s got the mentality to stand up and be counted in big games, as he’s shown over the years, and to get a player of that calibre to the club, we’re absolutely delighted.”