When you win the European Cup or the Champions League as it’s now called, you earn the right to put a gold star on your team kit, in recognition of winning the Europe’s Premier tournament.
50 years ago today, in the Portuguese city of Lisbon, underdogs Celtic, defeated the might of Italy, two times winners Inter Milan, and their host of international stars.
Celtic’s brand of football under manager Jock Stein was described as pure, beautiful and inventive, a sharp contrast to the Catenaccio of the Nerazzurri, and a style of football that had not only the local neutrals cheering on the Hoops, but neutrals all over Europe as the minnows from Scotland destroyed the favourites.
By defeating Inter, Celtic became kings of Europe.
The iconic image of lone figure, captain Billy McNeill holding the ‘Big Cup’ aloft on the steps of the Estadio National is now a permanent fixture at the bottom of the Celtic Way, as a reminder of how significant our victory was.
Conquering Europe put the modern day Celtic we all know, on the map. For the seven years that followed, big Jock took his Bhoys to another European Cup final, in Milan, ironically, in 1970, and two more European Cup semi-finals.
We were in among Europe’s best, year in year out. We belonged there.
Trying to emulate the Lisbon Lions achievement will be extremely hard if not impossible, the financial landscape has changed beyond recognition. No longer are you rewarded for your footballing prowess.
In the meantime, we can hold our heads high, in the knowledge that 16 guys from the west of Scotland took on the best Europe had in 1967 and won.
We’ve earned our gold star…