CELTIC great Stiliyan Petrov refuses to look back on two hours of x-certificate screening of the Seville heartbreak of 2003 when Martin O’Neill’s team lost in the UEFA Cup Final.
However, the fans’ favourite insists there could be much better viewing in the future as Ange Postecoglou gears up for another tilt at the Champions League.
Petrov was involved in 3-2 extra-time loss to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the colourful Spanish city with the 20th anniversary of a glorious failure due on Sunday.
HEADMASTER…Henrik Larsson is high and mighty as he bullets in one of his two goals against Porto in Seville in 2003.
Two wonderful headed goals from Henrik Larsson twice brought O’Neill’s side back from the brink to take the game into an extra period. The team’s efforts were not helped by the red card picked up by Bobo Balde and the Portuguese side’s winning goal that took two deflections before ending in Rab Douglas’ net.
It’s little wonder the match is not on the former Bulgarian international’s must-see list and he admitted: “No, I haven’t watched it. I don’t like it. I don’t think many of us at all watched it.
“I’ve seen the highlights of Henrik’s goals, but I haven’t watched the whole game back all together to see it and have a look at what we did right and wrong on the night.
“It’s still a tough one to think back to because we lost. That’s why it’s tough to think about that. Recently, I was sitting with Chris Sutton and Lubo Moravcik. Obviously, Lubo was talking about it even though he wasn’t there.
“Myself and Chris discussed how unlucky we were that day and the fact we should have won. If we had won, it would have created history.
“It’s still something that we remember with great pride because we had a great run, beat some great teams and played against some great players along the way. The fans still talk about it.”
HOOPS HUDDLE IN SEVILLE…the Celtic players get ready for the kick-off.
The Hoops overcame some strong challenges on the way to Seville in the shape of much-vaunted English pair Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers plus Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart and La Liga side Celta Vigo.
It was an agonising loss to Porto and Petrov, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “To be honest, I wasn’t happy. Martin took me off for Shaun Maloney.
“I was exhausted and it was so hot. Then we went down to 10 men and we thought it would be tough. If we could get to penalties, we had a chance.
“But it was a game where there are moments and, when you play quality teams and Finals, these are the little details that make the difference. Unfortunately, those little details and moments went against us.
“Listen, we had to be at our best. We had to really dig deep first of all to get to the Final and to compete against an incredible Porto team.
“Don’t forget they also had a very good manager at the time in Mourinho. Afterwards, he was talking about the analysis of certain players at the time. He was giving his players DVDs to watch our games, how we move, how we play.
“I remember Maniche talking about how he was watching my game running from deep and into space. I couldn’t get anywhere because he had analysed our game and how we played so well.
“This is something we had faced for the first time – an opposition knowing us that way and to break us the way they did. It’s interesting, that.”
THE FINAL ANGUISH…two-goal Henrik Larsson and Neil Lennon feel the disappointment in Seville.
Looking towards next season and another duel among Europe’s elite, Petrov added: “Ange knows that playing in the Champions League he’ll face very strong opposition and very strong players.
“Europe is a huge challenge, but one that he will love to take on. This is the next step. Do Celtic have the strength to go and do something incredible? Ange will have a process he’ll be working towards.
“Last year was the first experience for a lot of the players in the team and for Ange, too.
“He wanted to show everyone we have a style and we want to play a certain way. You can see most of the games were lost at the end when the opposition probably had a little bit better quality and a bit more physicality.
“I believe that’s what Ange will address, making sure the team is prepared with the players first and physically – because technically and with the style of play, they have it.
“They know what to do, it’s just finding the balance that’s needed to get through the group stage. In the modern football era as a big team, you have to add. You have to move on and make sure you challenge the players, as well.
“I believe Ange will strengthen the club because he knows the weaknesses, that going into the Champions League and the cups he’ll need players who can play longer periods of time through the season.
“He also needs players who can step in and fill the gaps when he needs them.”