He made mistakes but blaming Rab Douglas for Porto defeat is unfair

Rab Douglas, yes he made mistakes, but blaming him for Porto defeat is unfair…

Robert Douglas of Celtic in action during the Celtic v FC Basle Champion’s League qualifying first-leg at Parkhead in Glasgow on August 14, 2002. (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images)

Big Rab Douglas was a towering presence between the sticks at Celtic and a valuable member of the squad during the brilliant years when Martin O’Neill was the boss at Celtic Park.

While he wasn’t the best goalkeeper in the world, he gave his all and produced some great performances and more than contributed to our spectacular success during that very special Martin O’Neill era.

Like all keepers Rab had a mistake or two in him and as we all know when a keeper makes a mistake it’s highlighted more than anywhere else on the field, it’s just the way it is. Who’d be a goalkeeper eh?

Photo imago/Miguelez Sports Foto

Unfortunately for Rab his biggest blunders were made in the big games, ie the 3-3 game with Rangers at Celtic Park in 2002, and the perhaps the biggest of them all in the UEFA cup final in Seville 2003.

The Porto incident is one that many supporters bring up more often than not. Yes the big man could have done better in keeping out Porto’s late, heart-breaking winner deep into extra-time.

Photo: imago/MIS Robert Douglas (Glasgow)  – Celtic Glasgow 3:2 Stuttgart Fußball EC 3 Photo Herren Mannschaft Deutschland Einzelbild Aktion Personen

Rab will be the first one to admit so, but it’s unfair in my eyes. Why? Well what if Bobo Balde hadn’t got himself stupidly sent off? What if the defence had done better at the previous goals? You can also flip it and say, what if it went to penalties? The big man was superb at keeping out spot kicks, so he could have ended up the hero and a legend into the bargain.

It’s all ifs and buts, and most importantly it’s a team game. You win and lose as a team, not because of one individual.

Robert Douglas Glasgow Celtic FC Celtic V Rangers Glasgow, Celtic Park, Glasgow 11 February 2001 Photo Mary Evans Allstar Michael Mayhew

Most people tend to forget that big Rab was great throughout the run to Seville producing one or two quality saves, especially against Liverpool at Anfield. Maybe without those saves we wouldn’t have reached Seville?

I guess we’ll never know, but what we should all agree on is that blaming Big Rab is way out of order. The big man more than played his part in that remarkable run to Seville.

Bildnummer: 00767902 Datum: 27.02.2003 Copyright: imago/MIS

Many Celtic supporters have never been able to watch this game back. If that’s you look away now because here are the match highlights from Seville…

JustAnOrdinaryBhoy – follow on Twitter @ordinarybhoy

About Author

An ordinary everyday Celtic supporters hailing and still residing in Govan in the shadows of the enemy. I’m a season ticket holder. I Witnessed my first Celtic game in 1988 and have attended when I can ever since. Growing up in the 90s I witnessed Celtic at their lowest, and now appreciate the historic success we enjoy today. I enjoy writing about this wonderful football club and hopefully will continue to do so. I’ve always been a keen writer and initially started this a hobby. My ambition is to one day become as good an author as my fellow Celtic Star colleagues.


  1. Justshatered on

    In the heat of the moment after a huge loss like that, it is common for fans to look for a scapegoat.
    Balde being sent off was a big factor also ad well as the Murinho inspired “tactics” and the lack of authority in the official to deal with it was perhaps the biggest factor.
    Anyone who watched Murinho’s side in the recent European Final goes to show he’s still at it.

  2. Rabbie Burns on

    My over-riding memory of that game is of Neil Lennon being completed out-classed, out-thought, out-paced etc by Deco .. & me wondering why Paul Lambert wasn’t assigned to man-mark him, considering he’d done the same to Zidane in a Champions League final. Baffled me then, baffles me now.