I sat beside Stevie Chalmers and Bobby Lennox on Friday night at the excellent Irvine Celtic Supporters’ Club. The conversation eventually got around to Inter Milan. It’s hard to over-estimate the Inter team they faced in Lisbon. Going for their third European Cup in four years, and their fourth Italian title in five, they were the most imperious team Europe had ever seen, and arguably remain so. Real Madrid won five successive European Cups, but that consistency was not repeated domestically.
Despite this, Bobby and Stevie made it clear: Inter didn’t stand a chance. They were going to win that game, no matter what, there was not a single shred of doubt in their minds. It was a confidence which belied external reasoning and could only have existed within the team structure.
Talking about it 48 years later, the sense of purpose remains just as strong. That team believed they could do anything. I’ve heard contrasts. Gordon Strachan’s Celtic never came close to winning the Champions League, but I once heard him break off from a press conference to ask the room, “Who seriously thinks we have a chance of winning this?” Gordon’s lack of confidence was well grounded, but it didn’t feel right hearing him declare in this way. I prefer Ronny’s “We can win everything’ approach.
The Inter of 2015 are not in the same class as the Inter of ’67 but they remain formidable. Like Celtic, they are a team who appear to be progressing after a period of decline, but like La Grande Inter of Sarti, Facchetti and Mazzola, they don’t have a clue what to expect from Celtic.
Thanks for all the ticket requests for CQN11 St Pat’s Dinner over the last few days. It’s at the Kerrydale Suite on Friday 13 March, Cup Final weekend. Email me if you would like a ticket, firstname.lastname@example.org