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CELTIC v INTER MILAN WEEK: THE HISTORY BHOYS

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TOMMY GEMMELL and Stevie Chalmers are the iconic players who have scored the most important goals in Celtic history.

It was marauding left-back Gemmell who thundered in the equaliser against Inter Milan on the historic day of May 25 1967.

And it was penalty box predator Chalmers who snatched the winner as Jock Stein’s men won the European Cup in Lisbon – the first British team to conquer Europe.

Here are the stories of that memorable day from the two Hoops legends.

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The flamboyant Gemmell, now 71, recalled: “If they could have slapped tax on smiling we would have written off the National Debt in one fell swoop that wonderful day in the Portuguese capital.

“There would have been big trouble, though, if it hadn’t quite worked out. Let’s get this straight; the Lions loved – and still do – each other.

“We were friends and buddies off the pitch. On it was a different ball-game entirely. Those Lions could snarl, believe me. We were all winners and couldn’t tolerate anything else. I think that’s what made us a bit special.

“We could rant and rave at each other throughout the game, but afterwards it was all forgotten. There were no grudges or backstabbing. That was not our style. Everything was said to your face and there were plenty of clear-the-air views back then. We all knew where we stood with each other.

“Big Jock actively encouraged that side of our game and it didn’t do us any harm, did it?

“Travelling back in time, though, I must point out two players who have never received any credit for our victory in Lisbon. The names  Amando Picchi and Angelo Domenghini may not be instantly recognisable to the Celtic supporters, but I can assure them these individuals have played a significant, if unwitting, part in the club’s history.

“Let me explain. As we prepared for Lisbon, Big Jock took me aside and told me: ‘You’ll get the freedom of the left wing. That Italian Domenghini won’t chase back – he doesn’t know how to tackle.

‘I know what his game is all about. He’ll want to do his tricks and flicks at the other end of the pitch. The hard work will be left to the guys behind him. You’re going to enjoy this game.’

“Sure enough, Big Jock, as usual, was absolutely spot on. Domenghini was a seasoned and gifted Italian international and, yes, he was exceptionally dangerous going forward, but he didn’t want to know about defending.

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“When I received the ball I never had to look over my shoulder. He would simply be standing there, hands on hips, waiting for one of his colleagues to get the ball off me and feed it forward to him.

“He was a bit precious, as they say in football. Porcelain, even. Around my part of the world we would have labelled him a lazy beggar!

“Domenghini may have possessed bundles of skill, but he would never have been in any Celtic team managed by Jock Stein, that’s for sure.

“So, certain in the knowledge that I would be unhindered throughout the 90 minutes, I launched into as many assaults on the Inter Milan defence as was possible before complete and utter exhaustion might have set in.

“Amando Picchi? Yes, he’s another for whom Celtic should have a special medal struck. I can’t recall how many times I have replayed my equaliser over and over in my head.

“I’ve seen it countless times and on each and every occasion I offer up a wee thanks to Picchi. Why? If you watch that goal again, keep your eye on the Inter Milan No.6 who charges out from defence as Jim Craig passes the ball inside for me.

“Picchi comes at me at pace, but, for whatever reason, he hesitates and turns his back just as I am about to pull the trigger.

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“As I said, I have watched film of that goal over and over again and I have to admit that if he had kept his momentum going then there would have been every chance he might have blocked my effort.

“If he had come out with his foot up or to the side he might have made contact with my shot. Maybe he was thinking of his manhood, marriage prospects or whatever, but, thankfully, he had a swift change of mind and got out of the way.

“In fact, I should actually thank him twice because there is every possibility that his aerial acrobatics also blinded their excellent goalkeeper Giuliano Sarti, who had looked unbeatable.

“He was immense throughout and sometimes you start to believe it is just not going to be your day. We hit him with everything, but he thwarted us time and time again.

“I was beginning to hate the sight of him as he patrolled his area with so much confidence and composure. He looked pompous and even a wee bit arrogant.

“Watching reruns of the goal , I have noticed that Picchi definitely was in Sarti’s line of vision. The goalkeeper would not have got a great view of the shot until it was too late.

“He still made a spectacular effort to keep it out, though. I’ll give him that. Actually, I thought then – and I still do now – that my shot was a goal all the way.

“It was destined to hit the net. You instinctively know these things. I belted it right on the money. It was a sweet strike alright and, of course, I had been fortunate enough over the years to knock in a few from distance.

“Most of the times you know there is nothing the goalkeeper is going to do to keep it out.

“It took us until the 63rd minute to get that goal and, yes, as legend has it, I did swear at the gaffer shortly afterwards. He was yelling from the touchline: “Keep it tight – we’ll get them in extra-time.”

“I looked over and shouted back: ‘F**k off, boss, it’s 85 degrees out here and we’re going to finish it here and now.’

“Thankfully, that’s what happened and Big Jock never once mentioned our little bout of touchline verbals afterwards!”

Matchwinner Chalmers, 78, recalled: “Jock Stein used to con me rotten. I can never thank him enough for that! He was a master manipulator, that’s for sure, and Celtic would never have won the European Cup without him.

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“He really shook things up when he arrived at Celtic Park in March, 1965.

“One of my proudest achievements is playing in all nine games in our European Cup run and that, for me, was fairly impressive.

“I might be the guy who got the winning goal in Lisbon, but, believe me, being involved all the way through is something that will live with me forever.

“Okay, how did I feel when I netted against Inter Milan with only five minutes to go? Exhausted! Cramp was coming on, but that evaporated as soon as that ball hit the back of the net.

“I accept it may not have been as spectacular as Big Tommy’s effort, but, for me, it was special.

Tommy pulled the ball back to Bobby Murdoch to thump in a shot from the edge of the box.

“People have said they thought Bobby’s effort might have found the net without my help, but Bobby himself would have told anyone his shot was heading for a shy!

“I simply sidefooted the ball past Giuliano Sarti, Inter’s superb goalkeeper, and the European Cup was heading for the east end of Glasgow.

 

“You’ll see pictures of Sarti appealling for offside – well, he would, wouldn’t he? – but there was no way I was off.

“I was well onside when I got my touch to the ball.

“After Lisbon, I came home to spend my bonus money. To be honest, I can’t remember too much about my so-called spending spree.

“The wife, Sadie, would have got so

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mething, of course, and I probably spent the rest on things around the house. Not exactly Flash Harry, eh?

“But winning the European Cup was not all about money. It was about football and putting Celtic’s name on the European map.

“We managed that and, of course, Big Jock was smiling afterwards because we did it in the Celtic manner.

“Ach, I suppose we weren’t a bad side.”

* Adapted from ‘Lisbon Lions: The 40th Anniversary’ by Alex Gordon. Published in 2007.

More on CELTIC v INTER MILAN throughout the week on www.CQNMagazine.com.

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