With Celtic in European action once again, it is time to take a look back at the glory days of Celtic in Europe. Can the current side, flying high in the Europa League group stage, compete with the legends of old? Can Neil Lennon, in his first full season, emulate the achievements of the great Jock Stein, whose thirteen seasons in charge took the club to the very top.
Cruising in Group E
Things are looking good for Celtic so far in the Europa League. They currently top Group E with four wins and a draw from five games, and an average of two goals per game. With thirteen points, they have the second highest haul over all of the groups, just below Sevilla, whose perfect five wins from five record puts them at the top of Group A with fifteen points.
Tough times ahead
Things may be looking good at the moment, but both fans and the football club are well aware that this is just the start. Despite their early form, Oddschecker doesn’t have Celtic amongst the favourites for the Europa league. With a host of top teams ahead of them, including Arsenal, Manchester United, Roma and the aforementioned Sevilla, they face a daunting task.
If you’re looking for omens, Celtic’s current goals record echoes their run in that successful 1966/67 season, when they played nine games in the European Cup and scored 18 goals, conceding only five. A couple of clean sheets will keep them on track for the same golden ratio. That year they also had to face some of Europe’s biggest names, including Half Man Half Biscuit favourites, Dukla Prague and the mighty Inter Milan, who had won the tournament in two of the previous three years.
A night to remember
It was Celtic’s fighting spirit that took them through in the National Stadium in Lisbon 25th May 1967, battering away at Inter’s famous 11-man defence until Bobby Murdoch’s late shot was finally diverted in to make Celtic the first ever British team to lift the European Cup. They remain the only Scottish side to do so.
So, can Lennon reinvigorate the spirit of those Lisbon Lions once again? Can he out-play some of the biggest teams in Europe and bring home some coveted silverware? Only time will tell, but if the current squad need any inspiration, they only have to look at the East Stand at Celtic Park – named after the most famous of all Celtic teams.