by Richard DJJ Bowdery.
In today’s £multi-billion football industry players are drawn from all parts of the globe to play in Leagues as far apart as the USA, Great Britain and Japan. Even top teams in the English non-league pyramid have players who originated from overseas.
So when Juventus and Barcelona contest this year’s Champions League (European Cup) Final on Saturday 6 June, it will come as no surprise that both teams will field players drawn from far and wide: most notably Barca’s Lionel Messi, who hails from Argentina.
Although this is now the norm, it wasn’t always so. Indeed one team in particular, who once claimed Europe’s top club prize, hailed from a lot closer to home.
Glasgow Through and Through
Nearly 50 years ago in May 1967 Celtic FC became the first British club to lift the European Cup when they beat Italy’s Inter-Milan 2-1, in Lisbon, Portugal. Not only was this a great first for the British game, it also provided one other rather amazing statistic: all the Celtic players were born within a thirty mile radius of Glasgow. Some footballing commentators have hinted that it was closer to fifteen.
Whichever figure is true it was remarkable that such a ‘local’ side could take on and triumph over Europe’s best.
To cap it all even their manager, the late, great Jock Stein, came from within that 30 mile radius.
The Glasgow lads who made history that day were:
Compare that to the Celtic side who competed in this year’s Champions League competition. In addition to players from the British Isles, you had players from Honduras, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Israel, Australia, Norway, Bulgaria, Ghana, and Serbia.
It is a fair bet that never again will such a local side lift a major club trophy which makes the Lisbon Lions victory, all those years ago, even more memorable.