"To get this opportunity has been marvellous and a great honour," said Bertie Auld as nine members of Celtic FC's 1967 champions were welcomed back to Lisbon.
Some 47 years after winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup in Lisbon, Celtic FC's 'Lisbon Lions' were back in the city to celebrate their place in European football history.
Nine members of the team gathered to recall their 1967 victory against FC Internazionale Milano in the UEFA Champions Gallery before touring the UEFA Champions Museum. "To get this opportunity today has been marvellous and a great honour," said midfielder Bertie Auld as he admired the image of captain Billy McNeill holding aloft the trophy.
"It was our first season in the competition and I remember that the match was important to each and every player. The manager made it low-key, he had everything under control and we were unique: it was the first time that we had qualified for the competition and we believed that it was in the history of our club, we would win it. We had tremendous belief in ourselves."
The players posed for a group photograph with the original pennant from the match and the trophy from 1967 – and with the silverware that will be presented to the winning captain at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica tonight. The backdrop in the museum was an image of the 1960 European Cup final at Hampden Park in Glasgow, a match that proved an inspiration for another of the 'Lisbon Lions'.
"The first final I saw was Real Madrid [CF] against Eintracht Frankfurt and it was an amazing night," said Jim Craig, who was then a Scotland schoolboy international. "Eintracht Frankfurt had beaten Rangers [FC] 12-4 [on aggregate] in the semi-final and the majority of fans were shouting for them. Probably the greatest tribute that you can pay Real Madrid was that by the end of the game, that had changed completely and everybody was so bedazzled by their play. It was an amazing night.
"My next final was in '67 and in a sense, we broke the mould by showing that the way to play football was to come forward. We meet regularly as a group but it still feels strange at 71 to be best remembered for something you did when you were 24."