Undeniably the most prestigious club in Scottish football history, Celtic don’t seem to get the credit they deserve and are heavily underestimated in European competitions.
There’s no denying that there needs to be significant work done in order for Celtic to again be considered competitive in the big competitions like the UEFA Champions League.
They are a club which cannot settle for just dominance in their domestic league.
The betting odds on Scottish football have always favoured Celtic, and most of the time they prove to be accurate.
One of the possible reasons Celtic are underestimated and not shown the respect from pundits and opposing fans in Europe is because they simply aren’t aware of the historic triumphs that Celtic have in their locker.
That’s why in this article we’re going to walk through some of their top European victories.
Celtic’s Top European Moments
European Cup Final, 1967 – Celtic 2-1 Inter Milan
Possibly the most prestigious European victory is Celtic’s 1967 European Cup success, beating Inter Milan in the final in Lisbon. This was significant for many reasons as on top of this victory, Celtic had also won the Scottish Cup, League, League Cup, Glasgow Cup and then completed the clean sweep.
A truly remarkable season for the club and their legendary manager Jock Stein.
It may have looked so easy for them but it was anything but that.
They faced a fierce Italian side that already had experience in winning the competition. It didn’t start off as planned either as Inter Milan took the lead through a penalty, meaning Jock’s men had to come from behind to be victorious.
European Cup Quarter Final, 1980 – Celtic 2-0 Real Madrid
It has to be said that the European dominance that Celtic had shown throughout the 60s and 70s really did hit a bit of a barrier. They struggled to find the run of form they were showing prior to this and found themselves falling short of the mark in the latter stages of the competition.
Despite this, another excellent performance came in 1980 when they faced Spanish giants, Real Madrid.
Celtic Park was absolutely rocking as just under 70,000 fans witnessed a 2-0 victory.
The fans were roaring and were gearing up for the return leg in Spain, which turned out to not go as planned as Real Madrid clawed back the deficit and won 3-0 to progress to the Semi Final.
Nevertheless, for 90 minutes at home, the Bhoys were utterly dominant.
UEFA Cup Quarter Final, 2003 – Liverpool 0-2 Celtic
An astonishing night at Anfield saw the competition’s favourites unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament by a rampaging Green Machine, after a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park had seen the away side almost utterly dismissed by the English media, just as they had been after Blackburn’s manager Graeme Souness had called it “men versus boys” after a similar first leg result in Glasgow. They had been silenced by O’Neill’s side on their home turf. But nobody thought Celtic had that in them again.
They were wrong. Oh, and how wrong they were …
Alan Thompson rattled in a stunning free kick just before the break … and then in the second half, scoring the goal of his career, John Hartson drove the dagger into Gerrard et al with a magnificent volley which no-one who was there will ever forget.
The English press had been silenced again … Celtic were in the semi-final.
European Cup Group Stages, 2006 – Celtic 1-0 Manchester United
One of the most prestigious clubs in the world and one of the most successful in both English football and Europe is of course Manchester United. A team that has always been a force to be reckoned with and had so much success in their time.
They were expected to win in 2006, when fellow Scotsman Alex Ferguson brought them to Celtic Park after a 3-2 up at Old Trafford.
This time Man United were in for a shock as Celtic outplayed them and Japanese midfield maestro, Shunsuke Nakamua scored what was an unbelievable free kick to see the Hoops win 1-0.
There seems to be that extra bit of satisfaction when beating Manchester United and it could be to do with the many successes they’ve had, it’s a great confidence boost for any team.
European Cup Group Stages, 2012 – Celtic 2-1 Barcelona
One of the highlights of the modern era for Celtic fans; this was the night when a young kid named Tony Watt ran clear of the Barcelona defence and raised the roof at Celtic Park with a finish that was coolness personified. That made it 2-0 after the mighty Victor Wanyama had rose above the Barca defence to head home a fine goal.
Messi got one late in the day – in injury time – but nothing was going to spoil Celtic’s night, nor deprive them of one of the greatest European results in their history. Fans who were there that night will remember it forever, and especially that Roy of the Rovers style finish from a kid who was carrying the vast weight of that history on his shoulders … and he made it look easy.
Photo by Unsplash