Ahead of this year’s Champions League Final in Berlin – or the European Cup Final in old money. Here’s a look back at what happened on a Thursday evening in Lisbon on 25th May at the 1967 European Cup Final….
‘Celtic flags fly triumphantly in the evening shadows here today. At last, like the World Cup, the European Cup comes home to Britain. Celtic are the new champions and worthy ones at that, having beaten Inter Milan 2-1 in the final after a remarkable match; by sheer determination when all seemed stacked against them, when frustration and defeat stared them straight in the eye.’
‘There is no individual hero. Every man gave his all. No other British club has ever reached the final, let alone won Europe’s most coveted prize. And as the shadows lengthened just five minutes away from extra time Celtic scored the winning goal. It seemed the final minutes would never pass for their 7,000 supporters, who had travelled so far and so hopefully. It was like Wembley all over again after the Scottish victory against England. Jubilation was everywhere as the supporters cavorted around their heroes.
But hope had been slim for so long. Not for an hour could the despairing Scots break the defensive wall Inter built round their goal. Inter have done it so often, so successfully, it seemed Celtic, for all Johnstone’s cunning and Murdoch’s support of the forwards, had not the key to prise apart the tall Facchetti from his cohorts, Burgnich, Guarneri and Bedin. But the assistance of the backs and particularly the shooting of Gemmell from outside the wall was rewarded in the end.’
‘For all the great expectation of high tension, no one could have expected it to erupt so sharply or suddenly. Within the first six minutes Celtic were a goal down to a penalty. It came as Craig fouled Cappellini and was scored by Mazzola, for whom this must have been an emotional experience for it was here his father played his last match before he died so tragically in the air crash afterwards. Inter, for all their leisurely approach, snapped into action near goal with surprising skill and speed and only seconds before the goal Cappellini sprinted down the wing and Mazzolla’s low header glanced off Simpson’s knees.’
‘Nine men were pulled back to stem Celtic. Inter were well content and determined to hold what they had. It demanded defence of the highest order against an attack as consistent and resolute as Celtic’s. Sarti just managed to smother one free kick which Gemmell deflected off this wall of defence. Later, lobbing rather speculatively, Gemmell’s shot his the bar as the evening sun glinted in Sarti’s eyes. And all the while Inter had not threatened again. And when they needed to come from their defensive box they could not.’
‘Gemmell claimed the goal which brought Celtic level after an hour, and what a beautifully taken goal it was, coming from the clever understanding of Murdoch and Craig. This time the groping fingers of Sarti could not touch Gemmell’s fierce, first time shot. With the goal cam renewed hope for in spite of Inter’s stubborn defence, Celtic were back with a real chance. It did not come until five minutes from time and then Chalmers was promptly submerged by his jubilant colleagues after he had scored the most crucial goal of his career. And so on to the rejoicing.’
Albert Barham, Thursday 25th May 1967