PRECISELY 49 years ago today, Tommy Gemmell thumped in the goal voted the greatest in Celtic’s history.
The flamboyant left-back first-timed an unstoppable equaliser into the Inter Milan net as Jock Stein’s team fought back to overwhelm Inter Milan 2-1 on May 25 1967 in Lisbon.
Stevie Chalmers netted the winner near the end as the Hoops became the first British club to win the European Cup.
And Gemmell, now 72, would love to see new boss Brendan Rodgers lead the champions back to glory on foreign fields.
He said: “Europe is where a club of Celtic’s stature should be judged. That’s the place where they have to make an impact.
“They should be up there with the Real Madrids, the Barcelonas, the Bayern Munichs and so on. That’s the company they should be mixing in.
“Of course, it was marvellous to see my old team win their fifth successive league title to once again prove they are the best in Scotland.
“Maybe they haven’t received the praise they deserved in achieving that feat over the last five years.
“People who say four of their championship successes don’t count because The Rangers weren’t in the league are having a laugh.
“And they are also being downright respectful to all the other teams who have been in the top flight during the latest Ibrox club’s journey.
“Surely Aberdeen deserve credit for coming second over the past two years and keeping the pressure on well after the turn of the year.
“Others, too, have made it difficult for the Celtic players.
“Hamilton Accies, for instance, had their first-ever league win at Parkhead in their history a couple of years ago.
“So, any league title win over 34 games has got to be applauded.
“But, of course, it is Europe where we have failed over the past couple of seasons and I think that ultimately led to Ronny Deila leaving at the end of the season.
“Failure to qualify for the Champions League in two consecutive years just wasn’t good enough or acceptable.
“And when you look at the calibre of the two teams who scuppered their chances – Maribor and Malmo – it just shows there is much work for Rodgers to do in this arena.
“The new manager said it himself – Celtic are one of the world’s biggest clubs.
“They have a fanbase that is the envy of most. You can’t got anywhere on this planet without bumping into a Celtic fan.
“Those supporters are everywhere, believe me I know what I’m talking about!”
Gemmell also has the distinction of scoring the club’s first-ever goal in Europe’s most glamorous competition when he scorched one into the Zurich net in the first round 2-0 win at Parkhead. He hammered in two in the return leg in Switzerland as Celtic cantered through on a 5-0 aggregate win.
He added: “Brendan Rodgers won’t need me to tell him this, but is absolutely imperative to make certain Celtic don’t fail for a third successive season.
“That would be a dreadful way to start his career as the 18th boss of the club.
“But he comes across as a positive individual and it’s also obvious that he realises what this club is all about, the traditions and suchlike.
“Maybe others weren’t quite so clued in to the requirements of Celtic. It’s crucial to win, but it is equally important to entertain.
“We know he likes to play in attacking formations and maybe that hasn’t been too evident under Deila’s reign, although I’m taking nothing away from his two title successes.
“But Celtic fans have been brought up on adventurous, exciting play and they’ll pack out the place if they see that every matchday.
“It was the great Jock Stein who turned everything on its head at the club, of course. When he walked through the Parkhead door in March 1965 everything changed.
“Gone were the days where we could hammer a good team one week and then lose to a mediocre outfit the following game.
“He pointed us in the right direction and you feel Rodgers has been left with the same task.
“I’m not putting him in the same category as Big Jock, naturally, but he has a lot of work ahead.
“And, with the Champions League qualifiers just around the corner, the Irishman will realise he doesn’t have an awful lot of time to put his stamp on the team.
“Players will come and players will go over the next month or so as he reshapes the squad to his satisfaction.
“He will assess the current players and, no doubt, will have a couple, at least, earmarked to join him at Parkhead.
“Brendan Rodgers needs to hit the ground running – and a place in the Champions League has got to be a priority.
“I wish him the best of luck.”