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16 October 2014

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Football

Celtic win European Cup 1967

It didn't stop there; the Italians soon found themselves repeatedly pinned down by a Celtic side who simply outclassed them in every aspect of the game, and on every area of the pitch, but it seemed for an eternity that Celtic's winner would never arrive, and the game looked destined for a replay, were it not for the relentless attacks on the Italian goalmouth by Jock Stein's men. In truth, it was only a matter of time, and as the minutes ticked out to the end of the game, Bobby Murdoch led yet another blistering attack when he sent in a powerful shot on goal from distance, which Stevie Chalmers deflected into the net to give Celtic a 2-1 lead.

Bobby Murdoch raises the trophy as the players tour Celtic Park

© SNSpix

When the German referee Kurt Techenscher sounded the whistle for full-time, all Hell broke loose as the Celtic players became engulfed in a pitch invasion, with euphoric fans spilling on to the pitch in large numbers to congratulate their heroes. Initially, the Portuguese police feared that the crowd could get out of control, but the celebrations were entirely good-natured, and a sensible measure of restraint was displayed by the hosts - even if some of the players lost their jerseys during the melee as fans tried to take away souveniers of the occasion.

The chaos inside the stadium meant that the Celtic players could not be presented with the trophy out on the pitch, so club captain Billy McNeill was ushered around the outside of the stadium under armed escort, then climbed the stairs to the presentation podium, where he was handed the large-handled trophy and held it aloft for the ecstatic crowd to behold.

Celtic's historic victory in Europe should never be understated, and can certainly never be taken from them; not only were they the first British side to win the trophy, but the achievement of both reaching the final and winning the European Cup with a team comprised entirely of home-grown, local players (they were all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park), has never been repeated in European football.

Celtic fans return from Lisbon

© SNSpix

Even Matt Busby's Manchester United, who became the second British club to win the trophy the following year, included players from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland – and more importantly, Celtic won the trophy at their first attempt.

The achievement is now widely recognised to be the greatest in the history of Celtic Football Club, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest triumphs of the modern era.

The 11 Celtic players who took to the field on that sunny May afternoon in Lisbon subsequently became known as The Lisbon Lions, and their story is the stuff of modern-day football legends.

Quote from Stein at the final whistle:

"There is not a prouder man on God's Earth than me at this moment. Winning was important, aye, but it was the way that we won that has filled me with satisfaction. We did it by playing football; pure, beautiful, inventive football. There was not a negative thought in our heads. Inter played right into our hands; it's so sad to see such gifted players shackled by a system that restricts their freedom to think and to act. Our fans would never accept that sort of sterile approach. Our objective is always to try to win with style."

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