LISBON LION Bertie Auld was rated the team’s most influential player by many onlookers, club legend Davie Hay among them, when Celtic conquered Europe on May 25 1967.

CQN are celebrating the life and incredible times of the Hoops great in an EXCLUSIVE series with extracts from his best-selling autobiography, ‘A Bhoy Called Bertie‘, co-authored by his friend and writer Alex Gordon.

The remarkable life story continues with Bertie reminiscing about the journey to Celtic’s most supreme triumph in the Portuguese capital.

WE conned the Inter Milan players rotten before we won the European Cup on that glorious occasion in Lisbon on Thursday 25 May, 1967 – a day and date that will live with me forever.

It’s often been said that Celtic beat the Italians in the tunnel at the Estadio Nacional when we burst into a rousing version of ‘Hail! Hail! The Celts are here!’ Our opponents definitely looked a bit bemused, even startled.

They had never encountered anything like this and they must have thought they were about to take on a bunch of lunatics. It was highly unsual, of course, and it certainly got the message across that this wee team from Glasgow were not there just to make up the numbers.

However, I maintain we won the most prestigious trophy in Europe even before both teams reached the tunnel in Lisbon. I’m convinced they could have handed over that spectacular silverware the day BEFORE! Honestly, I really mean it. Let me explain.

ON THE BALL IN LISBON…Bertie Auld races away from Inter Milan captain Amando Picchi.

We were due at the stadium to go through our paces and, quite remarkably, Inter Milan’s players, who had trained beforehand, hung around to watch us. That was a monumental mistake.

What they witnessed would have terrified any opponent because we really gave it full throttle. They must have thought they were watching supermen. We were fit okay, but we didn’t need to go into overdrive that afternoon.

However, for the benefit of our intrigued audience, that’s exactly what we did. We put as much effort into that training routine as we had done in an actual game.

We did everything at ferocious speed. Jinky was racing all over the place, Big Tommy Gemmell was galloping up and down the wing in that lung-bursting manner of his. Even Bobby Murdoch broke into a canter! It was all done for their benefit, of course.

They must have wondered, ‘If they are like this in training, what on earth are they like when they are playing?’ We would glance over every now and again and we could sense the fear coming from Inter Milan.

IN CONTROL…midfield master Bertie Auld chips over a free-kick with the Inter Milan defence on alert.

They were nudging each other, pointing to this player and that player. There were a few shakes of the heard. We spotted them looking more and more worried the longer the turbo-charged session went on. They had sat on the terracing on an exeptionally warm day all smiles at the start.

By the time we had finished, they looked more just a shade perturbed. We were exhausted, but we were not going to let our rivals detect that. As the sun blazed down, we simply found extra reserves of energy to keep on going. It was the most punishing work-out in history. And we loved every minute of it!

The Inter Milan players traipsed off back to their base and we knew we had already sent shock waves through their system. I later heard that Helenio Herrera, their esteemed manager, told the Italian Press after our triumph that he thought we were invincible. On May 25 1967 in a little piece of heaven called Lisbon that’s exactly what we were.

Neverthless, there’s no doubt we conned our visibly startled onlookers the day before kick-off. It was gamesmanship, no doubt it, but it worked a treat, didn’t it?

THE JOYS OF JINKY…Celtic’s irrepressible winger Jimmy Johnstone puts pressure on Inter Milan. 

I was privileged to play in that game. It was an absolute pleasure to watch my team-mates during that ninety minutes. We were not going to be denied what we knew was rightfully ours – the European Champions’ Cup.

Jinky Johnstone was immense that day. The Italians didn’t really know how to handle him. They man-marked him with Tarcisio Burgnich, who was one of the best in the world at suffocating an opponent. Not on this occasion.

Jinky came to me afterwards and said, ‘I wish I had played better.’ I replied, ‘What are you talking about? You were Man of the Match.’ And I meant it.

Jinky did so much for the team against the Italians as he dragged players all over the pitch. It was a totally unselfish performance from the Wee Man who could have taken the spotlight if he had so desired in the biggest game of his life. It was a disciplined display from our mesmerising outside-right and I’m sure a certain Signor Burgnich would have readily agreed, albeit reluctantly.

The great Portuguese player Eusebio was at the stadium to witness the performance of our diminutive winger and he admitted later, ‘If he played for Benfica I would score a lot more goals. Who could fail with that sort of service?”




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