CELTIC suffered the most humiliating result in the club’s history in this month 24 years ago when they lost 3-1 to Inverness Caley Thistle at Parkhead.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, we look at the fall-out of the inexplicable Scottish Cup exit and examine the games that led up to the catastrophic result – and the welcome transformation that propelled Celtic into a new era.

Here is Part Seven of edited extracts from Celtic author Alex Gordon’s tribute book, ‘The Winds of Change‘, which was published by CQN in 2015.

Please enjoy.

IAN WRIGHT, the 36-year-old former England and Arsenal striker, was hastily signed by John Barnes on a deal until the end of the season.

It was obvious Celtic lacked cover for Henrik Larsson and it was hoped the prolific veteran, who had just been released by West Ham, would provide a quick fix.

Certainly, his old international team-mate believed in his ability to come up with the answer. Barnes was asked what would the frontman bring to the team. “Goals,” he said confidently. “That’s what Ian Wright is all about – goals.”

And three days later, Wright did, indeed, score on his debut as he had previously done at Arsenal, West Ham and during a 10-game loan spell at Nottingham Forest just before turning up in Glasgow.

Kilmarnock must have thought they were about to emulate Motherwell in front of 59,720 fans when Christophe Cocard, unmarked smack in front of goal, opened the scoring with a header in the 36th minute and held the advantage until the interval.

KNOCK ON WOOD…Ian Wright flies through the air to thump a header past Kilmarnock keeper Michael Watt – only see his effort thump off the crossbar and rebound to safety.

Wright, who took Mark Burchill’s place in attack, thought he had equalised five minutes from the break when the unconvincing Michael Watt failed to hold a Craig Burley shot. The frontman was in speedily to smash home the rebound, but referee Mike McCurry ruled it out and baffled Wright and just about everyone in the crowd while doing so.

The roof fell in on the Ayrshire side when Mark Viduka got into his majestic stride and Killie centre-back Martin Baker was red-carded after an off-the-ball skirmish with Lubomir Moravcik, who, admittedly, had gone in late with a slide tackle.

It wasn’t exactly Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier stuff at Madison Square Garden, but it was enough for the match official to dismiss the errant Rugby Park player and book the Celtic midfielder.

Wright sent Viduka through with a deft head-flick in the 52nd minute and the frontman powered a lot shot past Watt. Two minutes later, Moravcik sent over a cross from the right and Viduka flashed in a header. He completed his quickfire hat-trick in the 56th minute with another header.

The crowd were willing Wright, all action right from the start, to get a goal and he threw himself full-length to nod an effort away from Watt, but the ball struck the bar and flew over.

THE WRIGHT STUFF…the Celtic new Bhoy grabs a debut goal in Celtic’s 5-0 romp against Kilmarnock.

In the 77th minute, Burchill, on for Viduka, threw over an inviting ball from the left and Wright’s timing in the air was first class as he nodded past the bewildered Watt. Burley smashed in the fifth six minutes from time.

A smiling Barnes exclaimed: “Ian Wright lifted everyone, the players and the fans. His coming here is a high-profile situation and I’m sure opponents will try to get to him. But I’m sure he is mature enough to stay out of trouble.”

Wright was positively beaming at the end. “To come to Celtic at my age and play in front of 60,000 fans is just unbelievable, absolutely sensational. It’s a one-in-a-million chance and this has been an unforgettable experience.”

Celtic’s European ambitions came to a halt in the midst of a strange, deadly hush as they surrendered fairly meekly to Lyon in the return leg of their UEFA Cup-tie on November 4, their third successive 1-0 midweek defeat.

As early as the 17th minute, after Tony Vairelles had scored in a breakaway, Barnes’ men were struggling and most of the 54,291 onlookers seemed to realise that the three goals required to go through would be beyond this team and the brakes were about to be applied on another Continental adventure.

HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Ian Wright celebrates his debut goal.

Celtic had beaten Welsh minnows Cwmbran Town 10-0 on aggregate and then Happoel Tel Aviv 3-0 – with Henrik Larsson getting the three goals home and away – to set up the meetings with the French side.

There was a perfectly-observed one minute’s silence before the game in honour of the extremely popular Jimmy Steel, the club masseur, who had passed away. It was just as quiet at the end with the players and the fans seemingly accepting their fate long before the final whistle.

Barnes said: “Our all-round performance was poor. There was no urgency in our passing or movement and the players and the crowd went a bit flat. Lyon were worthy winners.”

The French club’s coach Bernard Lacome revealed he had spotted deficiencies in his opponents’ formation. He admitted: “We had identified weaknesses in defence after watching them in three games recently.

“I felt the gaps between the full-backs and the central defence were too big. I told my team to take advantage and that’s what they did.”

* TOMORROW: Don’t miss Result That Changed The Course Of Celtic History: Part Eight.

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