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Lisbon Lions: Gemmell Equalizer!

The first UK team to win the European Championship (now known as the UEFA Champions League) was the legendary Glasgow Celtic ‘Lisbon Lions’ team of 1967. Celtic players and manager Jock Stein envisioned a permanent page in the football history books, however, coming up to the final, Celtic were complete underdogs against the competition’s two-time champions and their catenaccio, a lock down defensive strategy.

Inter took the lead in the 7th minute via a spot kick from Sandro Mazzola, which Tommy Gemmell remarked was, ‘the best thing that ever happened’, as Celtic raised the tempo enormously after that. After some sharp passing by Celtic players around the Inter box, it was incidentally Gemmell himself who scored this equaliser in the 63rd minute. Gemmell came all the way up from centre back to bullet the ball into the top left side of the post: a truly unstoppable goal. Players report that Gemmell’s instructions were to stay at centre back at all times, but this goal was to be the sweetest disobedience for the entire team.

15,000 Celtic fans made it to Lisbon for the game, and none has forgotten it so far. This was arguably Celtic’s most historic, with them winning the Scottish League, Scottish, Cup, Scottish League Cup, Glasgow Cup, and the European Cup!