LISBON Lion Tommy Gemmell lapped up the atmosphere at a 60,000 sell-out Celtic Park in last week’s 3-3 draw with old foes Inter Milan.
But the legendary full-back saw problems Ronny Deila will have to sort ahead of Thursday’s night’s Europa League return at the San Siro.
Gemmell said: “It was stirring stuff the other night and, as ever, the Celtic supporters made it a very special occasion.
“I’ve said often enough over the years that they are the team’s 12th man and they proved it once more against Inter.
“Who couldn’t be motivated with fans like that behind you?
“However, I have to admit I was more than a little alarmed at the amount of space the Italian players got in dangerous positions.
“There were a few occasions when they had forwards in areas where it looked as though they had been given the freedom of the pitch.
“Against a quality team with quality players you will be punished and Inter snapped up their opportunities in Glasgow.
“Let’s hope our lads can do the same in the San Siro. I have no doubt they will get chances, whether it’s John Guidetti, Leigh Griffiths or whoever Ronny Deila selects as his main frontman.
“The tie isn’t over, but a lot of hard work lies ahead in Milan.
“However, the defence has a massive role to play and they can’t afford to switch off at any time.
“As a player, I loved bombing forward, but I can tell you Big Jock Stein never left me in any doubt what my main role was in the team. I was a defender first and foremost.
“It was okay to join the attack and maybe score a goal or two, but heaven forbid if I ever got caught up the pitch and it cost us a goal.”
Deila’s settled central defensive partnership of Virgil Van Dijk and Jason Denayer have a combined age of only 42 with the Dutchman the elder at 23 years of age.
But the Hoops boss has admitted he expects them to cope with the pressure despite their relative inexperience at the top in European competition.
He said: “You cannot be overawed. You cannot afford to stand off them and give them too much respect.
“Even the players who haven’t played in a Champions League game for Celtic in previous seasons have played in some big matches and I don’t think that there is any concern that they aren’t ready for this level.
“They want to be the best and this is how you will get better – individually and as a team.
“We have to be open-minded. We need a lot of energy, a lot of concentration, a lot of motivation.
“This is a big chance for us, too. Yes, it is not an easy challenge, but it is a chance to go out and earn one of the biggest results of your career.
“We have to do what we can to prepare as best as we possibly can. We will have a plan and a system and it will be different to the way we played at home.”
Incidentally stumbled across the cover pic in our archives last night – Tommy with Willie Wallace in Miami.