Celtic have announced they will face Spanish side Athletic Bilbao in a testimonial match for James Forrest at Parkhead on August 1.
The winger, a product of the club’s youth system made his first-team debut in 2010, has scored over 100 goals during his time at the Hoops, lifting 11 league titles, five Scottish Cups and five League Cups.
The 31-year-old Scotland international has spent his entire professional career with the club and only Billy McNeill, Bobby Lennox and Scott Brown have won more trophies.
Forrest, who scored a hat-trick against Hibernian earlier this season, and his testimonial committee have stated that a significant proportion of the funds raised from the match will go to East Kilbride-based charity Kilbryde Hospice and the Celtic FC Foundation. The clash, which will kick-off at 7.30pm, also forms part of Athletic Club’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou praised Forrest’s contribution to the club and said that he was looking forward to preparing his side to face a team who have impressed in La Liga this season. He admitted: “James has been a hugely important figure to Celtic across so many years, contributing massively to such a sustained period of success for the club and he is really deserving of this great honour.
“Although he has achieved so much he is someone who remains so humble and unassuming, continuing to quietly get on with his job and striving every day to do all he can to bring more and more success to our supporters. I am sure this match will be a great occasion for James and the club.
“It will be our first match back at Celtic Park after the summer break and we hope as many supporters as possible will be able to attend. We look forward to welcoming Athletic Club to Glasgow and we are sure they will provide a great test for us, but above all we look forward to a special night, honouring someone who has given us all so much.”
Celtic chief executive Michael Nicholson commented: “We were really pleased to grant James this testimonial match, and we wish him and the committee all the very best for the game, which we are ure will be a wonderful occasion.
“James has committed himself to Celtic and has delivered success after success to our supporters and our club, for which we are all grateful. James could not be more deserving of this honour and I am sure the match will be a great celebration of his Celtic career.”
Celtic previously travelled to Bilbao for a friendly clash in 2011. The Basque club would later honour Celtic legend Billy McNeill with their ‘One Club Man’ award in 2019, which was established to celebrate great players who have shown loyalty to one team throughout their careers.
Meanwhile, the Scottish champions have also confirmed they will play Gamba Osaka as part of the club’s summer tour of Japan.
The Hoops will travel to the Panasonic Stadium Suita on Saturday, July 22 for their second friendly match having already lined up a clash with fellow J-League side Yokohama F. Marinos on Wednesday, July 19. Following those two games, Postecoglou will take his team to South Korea, where they will face English Premier League outfit Wolves on Wednesday, July 26.
Postecoglou added: “I’m delighted we have completed our pre-season tour schedule with a second exciting fixture in Japan. Gamba Osaka are a proud club with great traditions and I’m especially pleased that both they and Yokohama will provide excellent Japanese opposition for Celtic this summer. We look forward to the tour, meeting fans in Japan and the tests that lie ahead.”