CELTIC legend Tommy Gemmell has mixed memories of European Cup Finals.
The goalscoring defender, of course, wrote his name into the Hoops history books with his sensational equaliser in the 2-1 win over Inter Milan in Lisbon in 1967.
And Gemmell was on target again to give Jock Stein’s men the lead in the Final against Feyenoord three years later.
Unfortunately, the Dutch came back to win 2-1 with a goal three minutes from the end of extra-time.
But it is as a spectator that Big Tam rates his day in Seville in 2003 as a recollection that will live with him forever. Speaking exclusively to CQN Magazine last autumn the Big Shot has this to say:
“I can well understand the Celtic supporters’ frustration at not reaching the Champions League this season.
“That’s where a team of Celtic’s standing and calibre deserve to be.
“People are calling the Europa League second-rate and perhaps that’s understandable.
“But was that not the situation 11 years ago when Basle knocked out Martin O’Neill’s side from the top tournament?
“Celtic were favourites to beat the Swiss, but they turned out to be a very good side.
“We won 3-1 in Glasgow, lost 2-0 in Basle and went out on the goals away rule.
“The fans were hugely disappointed and people labelled the UEFA Cup as a consolation trophy.
“Were they still saying that when Celtic got to the Final in Seville?
“Just look at the tens of thousands who turned up for that game for your answer.
“It was a fantastic ride through to the game against Jose Mourinho’s Porto.
“It’s always good to get one over on English opposition and, of course, Martin’s side managed it twice.
“Graeme Souness brought his Blackburn Rovers side to Glasgow and it was tight before Henrik Larsson got the winner.
“Afterwards, though, Souness and his Rovers players dismissed Celtic. One national newspaper had the headline, ‘Men v Bhoys’.
“I think that might have fired up Martin and his players before the tie at Ewood Park.
“It’s history now that Larsson and Chris Sutton scored the goals that dumped the English – and the former Rangers manager – out of the competition.
“And didn’t we enjoy ourselves at Anfield? What an evening that was!
“We had drawn 1-1 at our place after Henrik had scored in the first minute a big Emile Heskey levelled.
“But Alan Thompson, with a clever free-kick, and John Hartson, with a stupendous effort, gave us a great win down on Merseyside.
“Eventually, of course, we got to Seville but our courage wasn’t rewarded.
“Henrik Larsson was simply immense and scored two outstanding. Bobo Balde was sent off and Celtic lost in extra-time.
“I was there and I was disappointed for my team.
“But it was such an exciting time. The fans didn’t think they would have gone on such an exciting European adventure when they lost to the Swiss back at the start of that season.
“So, it’s not all doom and gloom today.
“Let’s make the most of the Europa League and, you never know, we could be back in Warsaw where the Final is taking place at the end of the campaign!
This should be Celtic’s target and I see no reason why we can’t win the Europe League. We are Celtic after all!”