Winning Europa League would be huge for any Scottish Club, but Lisbon Lions comparison is media madness

If theRangers win the Europa League this season it’ll be a great achievement, but for some journalists (such as Hugh Keevins) to say it’d eclipse Celtic’s triumph in Lisbon is ridiculous.

Alex Ferguson describes the Lisbon Lion’s triumph as the greatest achievement in the history of football… and for good reason.

Celtic went from being a mid table Scottish team on 1965 to the Kings of Europe in less than two years. The entire Lisbon Lions squad were Scottish and the 11 players who played in the final were each born within 30 miles of Celtic Park. They won European football’s premier prize at the first attempt, becoming the first club in the UK ever to lift the European Cup… a world away from the Europa League in terms of difficulty and prestige.

Much is made of the financial gap between Scotland and the rest of Europe nowadays, but Celtic didn’t spend big to assemble their Lisbon side. Not only were they a squad of mostly homegrown, and some cheaply recruited players, but they were up against the likes of Sandro Mazzola, Giacinto Facchetti and Mario Corso who are considered as three of the greatest Italian footballers of all time and the former two both came second in the Ballon d’Or. Meanwhile, Giuliano Sarti and Armando Picchi both achieved legendary status in the Latin world of football. Not to mention Dukla Prague’s Ballon d’Or winning midfielder Josef Masopust in the semi final. Therefore, the perceived gap in quality was just as big on paper, before Celtic proved the world wrong, regardless of the finances.

Celtic’s route to European stardom was not easy either. The cup was won by beating the champions of Switzerland, champions of France, champions of Yugoslavia (who had eliminated Atletico Madrid), champions of Czechoslovakia (who had eliminated Ajax) and champions of Italy (who had won 2 out of the last 3 finals and eliminated the holders Real Madrid).The Lisbon Lions then went and defended their crown in the Bernabeu by beating Real Madrid.

As well as making history on the continent, Celtic won all five available trophies that season – the Scottish League, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup, Glasgow Cup and European Cup. What’s more, they did it by playing pure, beautiful, inventive football.

For Hugh Keevins and his ilk to even compare a Scottish club winning the Europa League to the Lisbon Lions winning the European Cup is laughable, ahistorical and embarrassing.

A victory for theRangers in Seville would be a fine achievement in it’s own right, there’s no need to try and grab headlines with nonsensical comparisons which aim to belittle the greatest team that this country has ever produced.

Liam Kelly

READ THIS…Daizen Maeda to commit his future to Celtic in £2m transfer from Yokohama

David Potter’s new book, Putting on the Style, a biography of Celtic legend Willie Fernie is out next week, thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered and your copy will be posted out as soon as the lorry arrives. If you would like to order your copy please use the link provided below.

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.


  1. Question for Liam Kelly

    Although born in Scotland did Charley Gallagher not hold a passport of the Republic of Ireland, If memory serves me correct he was the first Scottish born player to opt for Eire. Enjoyable article, european cup or europa cup, Grimms fairytales are more believable than keevins. mon the tic.

  2. Sean McGinley on

    Scottish football was at an all time high too. The old Glasgow club, Rangers FC were in the Cup Winners cup final, Kilmarnock in Fairs cup semi and D.Utd beat Barca in same tourney. There are some real laughable fools around.

  3. Pointless trying to compare the Zombies with the Lisbon Lions, people are just biding their time and biting their nails awaiting the carnage that will happen next week. Needless to say, if Sevco do win it goes to show cheats do prosper, but they will still be losers in the eyes of world football everywhere they go due to the behaviour of the Sons of Satan. They will never win in the battle for the hearts and minds of football fans everywhere. Here’s hoping both teams (Frankfurt Ultras are no slouches) let themselves down badly enough to forfeit the game and the prize money.