CELTIC great John ‘Yogi’ Hughes was missing from Jock Stein’s Lisbon line-up for the history-making triumph on May 25 1967.

The non-appearance of the iconic Hoops forward has been the subject of conjecture ever since.

Hughes played in five of the eight games leading up to the European Cup Final, but the nearest he got to the action on the big day was a place in the stand.

The juggernaut attacker offered an insight in his acclaimed autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’, which was co-authored by his friend Alex Gordon and published in 2014.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we will publish extracts to once and for all provide the answers to the Lisbon question.

Please enjoy.

SADLY, I was struggling. My ankle refused to respond to treatment. Club doctor John Fitzimons worked on it, but it had him baffled. It had me fairly frustrated, I can tell you.

I continued to train and do some ball work, but it just didn’t feel right. We were edging ever closer to Lisbon and I was desperate to be involved. Jock, as ever, kept his thoughts to himself. He refused to even hint at his line-up for the most important game in the club’s history.

The last league match of the campaign was switched to Monday May 15 to give Celtic extended time to prepare for Lisbon. I realised at that stage I had to be involved against Kilmarnock at Parkhead to have any sort of chance of playing in the European Cup Final.

A couple of days before that encounter, Fitz delivered his calamitous news. “I am sorry, Yogi, there’s no way you can play.” Those words will live with me forever.

All these years later, I can understand the confusion among the Celtic support about my exclusion from the Lisbon line-up. No-one could blame them. Big Jock ordered a complete clampdown on any news coming out of Celtic Park. There was no way he was going to show his hand to Herrera.

SIDELINED…John ‘Yogi’ Hughes struggled in vain to play in Lisbon.

Why should he? Jock realised the Inter boss had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the players his team would face in the European Cup pinnacle. If he knew Bertie had played outside-left at Birmingham City in the early sixties, you had to ask what he didn’t know. Jock wanted to keep him guessing.

Herrera would have been well aware I could play at centre-forward as well as on either flank. I was an entirely different proposition to Stevie and Wispy coming through the middle. Would he consider tinkering with his defence to deal with that sort of threat?

It was all very hush-hush, but 12 days before the game in the Portuguese capital I had to accept the nearest I would get to the pitch would be a place in the stand. Yes, it was heart-breaking, especially when well-meaning supporters asked me for my thoughts on the rundown to the game.

“Stick one in the pokey for me, Big Man,” they would say. I could only smile and reply: “I’ll do my best, mate.”

WATCHFIL EYE…John Hughes goes through a training routine with Jock Stein keeping an eye on his progress.

And all the time I had to accept I wouldn’t be out there in the thick of the action in the most momentous encounter in Celtic’s history.

So, Big Jock continued to perform his psychological games in an effort for his one-upmanship over Herrera when we played Kilmarnock and he knew only too well the Inter Milan supremo had a couple of spies at Parkhead that night.

Billy McNeill lined up with the No.8 on his shorts, but even Caesar would be the first to admit he was no midfield player. John Cushley played his only game of the season at centre-half. West Ham manager Ron Greenwood was looking for a rugged, no-nonsense central defender to play alongside England’s World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore in the heart of the London team’s rearguard.

Jock told him to have a look at Cushley and fielded him against Killie. My old mate must have done quite well – we won 2-0 with goals from Willie Wallace and Bobby Lennox – because the West Ham gaffer agreed a fee of around £25,000 for his services shortly after the game.

CHAMPIONS…Jock Stein is carried shoulder high by Willie Wallace, Bobby Murdoch and Billy McNeill after Celtic’s 2-0 win over Kilmarnock on May 15 – 10 days before Lisbon. Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox, Tommy Gemmell and John Cushley join in the celebrations. 

Cush, however, remained a Celtic player until after Lisbon. Jock wasn’t even going to allow that snippet of news to filter through to Herrera. John Fallon also played in goal that evening, his only appearance in the top side during the campaign.

Yes, Jock enjoyed his manipulations and strategies. But there was still no place for yours truly. That hurt and I couldn’t tell anyone. Even newspaper reporters I was friendly with were kept in the dark. I had to maintain the great pretence right up until kick-off time.

Then, and only then, could the truth come out. Understandably, though, it was swept into the mists of time in the glorious aftermath of Lisbon. So, all these years down the line, I have at last been able to set the record straight.

There is every possibility I might not have been in Jock’s plans in any case, but I wasn’t fit to play even if I had been.

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the EXCLUSIVE and concluding Part Eight of Big Yogi and Lisbon: The Truth – only in your champion CQN.


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