LISBON Lion Willie Wallace insists Jock Stein would have been an admirer of Ange Postecoglou’s current Celtic side.
The 82-year-old former Hoops star, the only player the legendary manager bought in the side that conquered Europe on May 25 1967, now lives in Australia and is looking forward to the visit of the champions for the Sydney Super Cup.
Wallace gives a massive thumbs up to what Postecoglou is achieving at his old club he joined from Hearts in December 1966 for £30,000 – Celtic’s biggest transfer outlay in their history at the time.
The man known as Wispy, who has lived Down Under for more than four decades after first moving to the country in March 1975 to play for Apia for two years, will fly from his family home in Brisbane to watch the Parkhead men against Sydney FC on Thursday at the Allianz Stadium and then Everton on Sunday in the Accor Stadium.
HAMPDEN HEROES…a delighted Jock Stein congratulates two-goal Willie Wallace and Stevie Chalmers after the 2-0 1967 Scottish Cup Final win over Aberdeen.
Wallace said: “Ange is held in great regard down here. Make no mistake, he’ll get a great welcome back.
“I’ve known him for a very long time. I had a business in Melbourne where he was raised and Ange will know a lot of the guys I knew.
“I remember him as a little Greek lad playing for a Greek team. I thought he was a good player in the years that followed.
“Ange achieved so much in Australia at club level and for the international team. He delivered in Japan, too.
“The football he’s got Celtic playing now is excellent. He’s doing a fantastic job.
“Ange has brought in players carefully, guys he’s convinced will suit the way he wants the team to play.
“I don’t think you can fault Ange since he’s become manager. They’re playing great, attacking football and scoring plenty of goals — just like Celtic of my day. I enjoy watching them.”
HISTORY BHOY…Willie Wallace in action against Inter Milan as Celtic head for the record books with their memorable 2-1 victory in the European Cup Final in Lisbon on May 25 1967.
Wallace, speaking to the Scottish Sun, continued: “I believe Jock would have approved. He would have appreciated Ange’s way of going about things.
“Jock always wanted us having a go at the opposition, especially in Europe.
“Look at the way we beat Inter Milan. We were relentless and they couldn’t cope with us.
“We also weren’t crazy at the back. I often feel our back four, led by Billy McNeill, never got the credit they deserved.
“But with the likes of Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox and Stevie Chalmers we were such a strong attacking force.
“Jock always told us we couldn’t stop in a game. It didn’t matter if we were ahead. As soon you ease off you lose something.
“Ange established the same way of thinking as soon as got the Celtic job — be relentless.”
PARADISE…Ange Postecoglou looks on as Celtic march relentlessly towards domestic success.
Wallace, who scored an incredible 140 goals in 239 games in his five years at the club before leaving for Crystal Palace along with John ‘Yogi’ Hughes in a double deal in October 1971, added: “I’m looking forward to seeing the team play live.
“I was actually in Sydney recently for a Celtic supporters’ 40th anniversary event. It was a terrific week.
“There was Alan Thompson, Paul McStay and Scotty McDonald.
“No-one should ever underestimate the size of the Celtic support here in Australia.
“It’s always emotional for me to go to functions like that as one of the Lisbon Lions.
“The cherished team-mates who are no longer with us never leave my mind and I always think they’re still with me when I attend these events.
“I keep most of my medals in an old leather shaving bag which has my initials on it. Some are also at Celtic Park.
“I’m in my 80s now, but I still intend to go to as many events as I physically can.”
Wallace had a three-game spell at Ross County 1977 and also teamed up with fellow-Lion and friend Tommy Gemmell in a managerial double-act at Dundee for three years before returning to Australia in 1980.