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McNeill relives Celtic's Lisbon triumph

Published: Tuesday 17 September 2013, 10.47CET
This season's final is in Lisbon and the first player to have lifted the European Cup in the city, Billy McNeill, tells UEFA.com about the night in 1967 when Celtic FC became champions.

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Published: Tuesday 17 September 2013, 10.47CET

McNeill relives Celtic's Lisbon triumph

This season's final is in Lisbon and the first player to have lifted the European Cup in the city, Billy McNeill, tells UEFA.com about the night in 1967 when Celtic FC became champions.

When the UEFA Champions League season concludes in Lisbon on 24 May 2014, it will bring back memories of the only previous European Cup final played in the Portuguese capital, just one day shy of 47 years ago.

That was at the Estádio Nacional in 1967 when – against the odds – Helenio Herrera's FC Internazionale Milano, having led at half-time, were beaten 2-1 by Celtic FC, the first side from outside southern Europe to take the title and still Scotland's sole contintental champions. Celtic's triumph was even more remarkable as the whole of their team was drawn from the vicinity of Glasgow – a unique achievement.

Proudly lifting the trophy that day was captain Billy McNeill, who would make a club record 68 European appearances before succesfully managing the side. Now Celtic's club ambassador, McNeill talks UEFA.com through that famous May night when he and his team-mates became forever known as the 'Lisbon Lions'.

Arrival ...
"We always had the attitude of you and us – we can beat you when we're on top of our game. The very fact that the Italian club met us in the final was magnificent and as they came out of the tunnel they started singing, so we started singing louder than them and I think that is what helped us. We went out there and we just went into the game and took it with us."

Support ...
"We looked at them and the people that had travelled out of Scotland were absolutely magnificent. It was Celtic supporter after Celtic supporter down to Lisbon, probably having never been anywhere out of Glasgow, but they wanted to be part of it and they certainly put on a story. It was marvellous."

Pushing forward ...
"The fact they scored an early goal, that made it obvious for us. The only thing we could do was to take the game to them and that worked for us. And that was our style. They weren't into our style and it worked for us."

Going ahead ...
"That was magnificent – I've got to be honest with you, I can't even describe how I felt at that particular moment, but we knew then. I started saying to the other players, 'We've got to finish this game! Don't let them into this game!' They were gone, they were gone at that time."

Final whistle ...
"The fans were doing a job, which encouraged us to do a job, but it was great. We set up having got our goals in the game and we never thought we were going to lose and it worked. That's what hit us. We had done something that had never been done before and it was terrific."

Homecoming ...
"It was magnificent. On our plane we never knew what was going to happen. We dropped into Glasgow airport and when we came along London Road to go into Celtic Park there were thousands of people, thousands of people wanting to see what was happening, and that was what struck us. That's really what made us realise exactly what we had done and it was wonderful."

Last updated: 17/09/13 21.57CET

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