TOMMY GEMMELL scored Celtic’s first-ever European Cup goal EXACTLY half-a-century ago today.
The legendary full-back was on target as Jock Stein’s men overcame FC Zurich 2-0 at Parkhead in the first leg of their opening round as they made their debut in the elite tournament.
And Gemmell, who went on to score two more goals in the 3-0 return game in Switzerland, went into the history books again when he thumped in the leveller against Inter Milan in the Final in Lisbon on May 25 1967 before Stevie Chalmers claiming the winner.
The Hoops icon recalled: “Big Jock, as ever, was scrupulous in his preparations.
“When he got the tactics board out we knew we would have to sit through half-an-hour or so of instructions as he moved the little magnetic dots around. He simplified everything for us as usual, and, as you would expect, he had done his homework on our opponents.
“‘So, by the time the kick-off came around to our first leg in Glasgow we were fairly well primed as to what to expect from our first opponents in Europe’s blue riband competition. Or so we thought.
“What Big Jock hadn’t legislated for were the Swiss being a team of cloggers. They set out to kick us off the park that night and Wee Jinky, in particular, got some heavy treatment.”
A crowd of 47,604 watched with the game still goalless after the hour mark. Four minutes later, though, Gemmell walloped in an unsaveable 25-yarder to break the barrier and Joe McBride added a second.
He added: “I can remember that goal like it was yesterday. I was surprised the Swiss backed off me when John Clark placed the ball in front of me.
“I didn’t get that freedom in the domestic game where the wingers used to mark me, so I decided to make the most of it.
“The ball set up perfectly for me to give it a dunt and, thankfully, my effort flew high into the top corner.”
Gemmell smiled and added: “Little did we know what was around the corner for Celtic in Europe’s premier competition!”
*Read about Celtic’s wonderful season 50 years ago in That Season in Paradise, Ten Months of Celtic Heaven, out now on CQN Books, available from Celtic stores and online superstore and from www.cqnbookstore.com