When Jock Stein met Helenio Herrera. Part Two: The Meeting

Matt Corr with Pat Woods: When Jock met Herrera. The Meeting…

In Part One of this article (link below), we covered the visit by Scottish Daily Express journalist George Reid to the Inter Milan training camp on Wednesday, 16 October 1963, where legendary Inter boss Helenio Herrera extended an open invitation to Scottish managers and coaches to come and see how he worked at first hand.

READ THIS…Matt Corr with Pat Woods: When Jock Stein met Helenio Herrera – The Invitation

Herrera’s unique offer was accepted by two of the brightest managerial prospects in Scottish football, Kilmarnock’s Willie Waddell and Jock Stein of Dunfermline Athletic, but what happened next?

The context to this initiative was explained in some detail in the first part of the article, but in simple terms it was a response to the very real perception that Scottish football was falling behind its continental counterparts, as highlighted by a recent 7-0 European Cup preliminary round humiliation inflicted on current champions Rangers’ by an ageing Real Madrid team then Hearts’ play-off defeat to Swiss outfit Lausanne-Sport in the opening round of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Three years earlier, Rangers had shipped 12 goals to an Eintracht Frankfurt side who would lose seven to the Spaniards at their peak in the Hampden final of April 1960.

The current European champions were AC Milan, who had prevented Benfica from making it three-in-a-row by defeating Eusebio et al in the Wembley final of April 1963, the baton now having passed from the superclubs of Spain and Portugal to Italian football for a cycle were Serie A would be the place to be.

Having enjoyed multiple La Liga title successes in the 1950s with both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona – adding two Copa del Reys and Inter-Cities Fairs Cups during his spell at the Camp Nou – Helenio Herrera was now working his magic with Inter Milan.

Photo imago/United Archives International – 14th June 1965: Inter-Milan team in training. Photo shows: Headed by their training magician Helenio Herrera (track suit), members of the Inter-Milan follow their coach.

His Nerazzuri pipped Juventus, AC Milan and Bologna to win the Scudetto for the first time in a decade in the spring of 1963, thus gaining access to the European Cup for the first time, where they would join their Rossoneri city neighbours, the cup-holders. Inter’s inaugural opponents in that elite competition would be English champions Everton, the high-profile tie decided by a single goal scored by their Brazilian winger Jair in the San Siro second leg. Next up for Herrera’s Inter would be the French title-winners AS Monaco at the end of November, but before then a very special meeting of men, minds and personality would take place.

Back in Scotland, it was left with Celtic and Partick Thistle to carry the torch on the continent. The Jags’ reward for their third-placed domestic finish in 1962/63 had been a favourable draw with Irish League side Glentoran, Thistle comfortably winning both legs to set up a tie with Spartak Brno of Czechoslovakia, those matches scheduled for the second half of November.

Helenio Herrera right of Inter-Milan demonstrates his training methods to British managers and coaches yesterday. The course was organised by the Football Association at the National Recreation Centre, Crystal Palace. 7th July 1965. Photo TopFoto

And having scored 10 goals against Switzerland’s FC Basel in their first-ever European Cup-Winners’ Cup tie, in addition to beating struggling Airdrieonians 9-0 in a League match to close out October – the game where goalkeeper Frank Haffey infamously missed the opportunity for double-figures from the penalty spot – Celtic would now face much stiffer opposition in the shape of Yugoslav Cup-holders Dinamo Zagreb in December. Zagreb had progressed against the Austrian representatives LASK only on the toss of a coin, following a play-off.

The Glasgow rivals would actually face each other twice in the space of three days in early November, sixth-placed Celtic continuing their recent good run of results to come from 3-2 behind at the interval to win 5-3 in the League clash at Parkhead, despite the absence through injury of inspirational skipper Billy McNeill.

Stevie Chalmers scored a hat-trick against East Stirling

Cesar had endured a miserable afternoon the previous Saturday against East Stirling at Firs Park, ordered off late on whilst a limping passenger on the wing as Celts won 5-1, thanks mainly to a Stevie Chalmers hat-trick. Jim Kennedy stepped up as captain against Thistle, whilst John Cushley deputised at centre-half. Chalmers was again the main man for the Hoops with a second successive treble, wingers Jimmy Johnstone and John Hughes also chipping in with a goal apiece.

Stevie’s future Celtic teammate Willie Wallace also scored three goals that afternoon – for Hearts in a 5-1 win over St Mirren at Tynecastle – whilst Joe McBride grabbed a double for Motherwell against East Stirling, as did Harry Hood for promotion-chasing Clyde against Raith Rovers at Kirkcaldy. And a teenage Tommy Callaghan was on target for Jock Stein’s Dunfermline Athletic in a 2-2 draw with Falkirk at Brockville, which kept the Pars in third spot in the First Division behind Scot Symon’s Rangers and Willie Waddell’s Kilmarnock.

It was Firhill for thrills, injuries and battles 48 hours later, in the first round of the Glasgow Cup, nine-man Celtic a goal down with 20 minutes remaining before John Divers scored an equaliser to secure a replay. Goalkeeper Frank Haffey had retired through injury at half-time, replaced by Tommy Gemmell between the posts for the second period in those pre-substitute days.

Then Jimmy Johnstone and Thistle winger Ian Cowan had a touchline scuffle which saw both players dismissed. As an aside, Jinky had only made his senior debut a few months earlier in a 6-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, goalkeeper Dick Madden and the aforementioned John Cushley also making their maiden first-team appearances the same evening. Both Jimmy and John would tragically succumb to that dreadful MND illness in later years, but it was nice to hear that Dick was alive and well recently, via his daughter on social media.

Both Madden and Cushley were in the Celtic reserve side which faced Hibernian’s second-string at Parkhead on Saturday, 16 November 1963, whilst the senior teams fought out a 1-1 draw at Easter Road, a better result for the home side who were already in relegation trouble. With John Fallon replacing the injured Frank Haffey and Billy McNeill restored at centre-half, Bobby Murdoch had opened the scoring for Celtic in the first half in Leith before Willie Hamilton’s 30-yard rocket flew past Fallon to secure a vital point.

Harry Hood grabbed a hat-trick in Clyde’s 6-0 rout of Ayr United at Shawfield to take his season’s tally to 25, but the game of the day was at Rugby Park, where a Kilmarnock win would have seen them leapfrog opponents Rangers at the top of the table. That scenario looked on with just 20 minutes remaining, Killie 1-0 up before a controversial Ralph Brand penalty saw the Ibrox team maintain their single-point advantage at the summit. Jock Stein’s Dunfermline Athletic took advantage of that result to gain a point on both with a 2-0 victory at East Stirling.

The next task for the managers of both Kilmarnock and Dunfermline would be very different, Willie Waddell, Jock Stein and their respective trainers flying out for their meeting with Helenio Herrera in Milan three days later, Tuesday, 19 November 1963, accompanied by Scottish Daily Express Features writer George Reid.

He would post his article headed Scots at the Soccer Summit the following day, and as with the first piece from October 1963, published on The Celtic Star last month, I am indebted to legendary Celtic author and historian Pat Woods for sharing this with me and for his insights on the event. That get-together, which took place 60 years ago this week, would have incredible consequences which no-one could possibly have forseen at that time.

But all of that can wait for now. Firstly, let’s have a read at George Reid’s article in its entirety.

Scots at the Soccer Summit by George Reid 


Jock Stein and Willie Waddell fly to Milan to take up the challenge to Scots Soccer through the eyes of Helenio Herrera, the world’s top coach



Dateline: MILAN, Tuesday

Managers Willie Waddell of Kilmarnock, and Jock Stein, Dunfermline, have just emerged after three hours of deep discussion with Helenio Herrera, the world’s top football coach.

“Absolutely infectious,” that was their immediate verdict.

It was shortly after our plane taxied into Linate Airport after our 1,000-mile flight from rainy Glasgow.

The sun was shining brightly – a happy omen to this tip-seeking trip sponsored by the Scottish Daily Express.

Within minutes, Jock was waving his hands high in the air, sweeping an imaginary ball into the net.

Willie Waddell, hands round Herrera’s shoulders, jinked his feet to show how Kilmarnock reached the final of the New York Cup in 1960.

[Note from Matt Corr: This refers to the International Soccer League, the inaugural playing of which, in and around New York City in the summer of 1960, featured 12 clubs from Europe, Brazil and the USA. Kilmarnock won a group comprising of current English champions Burnley, 1959 French title-winners OGC Nice, New York Americans, Bayern Munich and Ireland’s Glenavon, before losing 2-0 to Brazilian outfit Bangu, the other section winners, in the Championship final at New York’s Polo Grounds on 6 August 1960.]

Trainer Walter McCrae, of Kilmarnock, leaned earnestly forward in his chair seeking information – both of them are physiotherapists – about Mr H.H.’s methods for sick or injured players.

Little Jimmy Stevenson, of Dunfermline, in the excitement, bobbed up and down pursing his lips to repeat Helenio’s favourite phrase: “Mama Mia!”

Outside the little pasticceria – the ritzy coffee bar – where they met, crowds gathered quickly…pressing their noses against the plate glass windows and asking: “They come all the way from Scotland, yes? It’s wonderful.”

The little waiter scurried around in the hub-bub delivering the tiny cups of pitch black coffee, ferreting out information, and seeking autographs.

It was fantastic how they took to each other. It was an immediate union of the Old Boys of the Soccer Field – united, as Herrera put it happily, in “a brotherhood of the football.”

Only Jock Stein could say this. “He is,” he said, “an infectious wee devil.”

This brought a great grin across Willie Waddell’s face: “If he can do this to us,” he smiled. “what can’t he do with his own players? This MUST be how he manages to get them through such punishing training.”

“You, too,” said Herrera, “must be sportsmen to have come this long way. The mark of a great manager is never to be satisfied. He must always be ready to learn – how do you put it? – from the other fellow. I hope to come to Scotland in the next year to do the same as you.”

Only hours before, we had dipped down through heavy clouds after our five-hour flight to Milan. The foursome, if not exactly unbelievers in the Herrera method, were distinctly open-minded. Dour, you might say, in the best Scots way.

“Look, George,” said Jock, “I think we’d better clear the decks, so to speak. There’s a lot we CAN’T do. You can’t just take a chunk of Italy and dump it down in Scotland, saying, ‘here’s your instant recipe for success.’ You know why, because we’ve never really had the same chance as those Italians.”

Willie concurred, and for these reasons.

1. Italian money is too big.
2. Italian discipline is too tight for Scottish players.
3. Scotland is a pretty small country.
4. The Scottish League is much bigger.

“There has been a lot of talk about things being made too easy for Herrera,” he said. “It’s downright stupid. He never made his mark with his million. He made it by great soccer skill.”

He went on: “The Italians, the South Americans, and the other Europeans borrowed from us. Now we’ve got to borrow from them. Fair’s fair. And why? Not to learn tactics. Not to play defensive football. But to study Herrera’s training methods and the wee bit of jiggery-pokery that gives these boys their ball control and speed.”

It’s been this kind of intensive football talk all the way. Rarely have I seen two managers so raring to go: so eager to get to grips with Herrera’s challenge.

Willie and Jock leapt at the man, clasping him by the hand as they walked together up the Via Cavour in the centre of the bustling city. And Herrera, returning the clasp, said very simply: “I’m delighted you have come here. Yes, very pleased. You do me and my club great honour. And I – with all honesty – will learn from you too. This is not one-sided.”

[Note from Pat Woods: The egotistical Herrera made sure that Stein and Waddell’s visit was well publicised in the Italian press.]

Down to business! The coffee cups and orange juice – “All managers,” says Herrera, “must drink orange juice” – were swept away.


“I always spy out my enemy’s weak spot. I hammer it till it cracks. It is stupid to waste my men. Only one place – yes – where I get through. Then I attack: BOOM! My team becomes a battering ram.”


“For the money they get, they believe it is worthwhile. But more important, they do it because they trust me – they believe I know best.”

Stein: “I think we do it more by kindness, but sometimes I wonder how many Scots managers manage with some of their young players.”


“Tomorrow I show you this with moves on my big board, huh?”


“It must be a spectacle. I think it’s good that people come to see Stanley Matthews like this.”


“I always say – my job is to take teams TO THE TOP, not to take them AT THE TOP.”

Stein: “One of the problems of Scots football is the old tale – Rangers and Celtic are best. We tell our boys they’re the tops, but we hope we can learn a bit about your killer spirit.”


“To give my players VARIETY all the time. Also, never to let them stop working. Never to let them get bored. But tomorrow you come with me and you see us training for our European Cup game with Monaco [they beat Everton in the first round]and I show you everything.”


Big smiles all round. Hand-clasps. Pats on the back. More orange juice and off Herrera went to a meeting of the representatives of 500 Inter Milan Supporters’ Clubs.

Parting of the fans at the door.

“Aye,” said Jock, “he IS an infectious wee man. He’s got the enthusiasm it takes.”

The great test comes tomorrow.
• Does Herrera use men like machines?
• Does he treat the game like a chess board?
• Does he elevate intellect and theory above instinctive skill?

Or does he believe, like Willie Waddell and Jock Stein, in this affirmation of Faith that: “Football, above all, is a matter of getting the ball into the back of the net. And there as often as possible.”

Jock Stein, shortly after being appointed Celtic manager

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED – By Willie Waddell and Jock Stein

“Let’s get one thing straight: neither of us came here with any idea of giving up the old Scots ATTACKING game. To go over to defensive play, Herrera might win us points. It would also, we believe, be the death of Scots football. The fans just wouldn’t take it. So why have we come? What have we learned on this first meeting?

1. We’ve talked tactics. They may not always be usable in League games at home, but next time we’re up against a continental side – well – we hope to know EXACTLY what’s at the back of their minds.
2. To get much-needed variety into Scots training. We’ve passed the old standstill stage, of course, with players just doing exercises. Now we hope to streamline the whole business.

“Herrera puts fire into a team. He just lives football. The nearest thing we can say at present is that he runs his team like an orchestral conductor – bringing every bit into play at its proper time and letting no one outweigh anybody else.

“But the biggest surprise is just how much we have in common. His ideas on marking, on attacking or neutralising the opposition are very much the same as our own. What is different, we think, is how he trains his men every morning. But once we’ve got on our tracksuits and been out to Linate tomorrow, we’ll be able to tell you a great deal more about this.”

End of article.

To be continued later today on The Celtic Star…

Hail, Hail!

Matt Corr, with thanks to Pat Woods for provision of the article and his insights on it.

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About Author

Having retired from his day job Matt Corr can usually be found working as a Tour Guide at Celtic Park, or if there is a Marathon on anywhere in the world from as far away as Tokyo or New York, Matt will be running for the Celtic Foundation. On a European away-day, he's there writing his Diary for The Celtic Star and he's currently completing his first Celtic book with another two planned.

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