The changing face of Celtic

SEVILLE: When Celtic last tasted European glory on that famous night in Lisbon 36 long years ago, the closest thing they had to an imported player was Bobby Lennox. 

Unique among the side that beat Inter Milan to become the first British club to lift the European Champions Cup, Lennox was not actually born within jogging distance of Celtic's Parkhead stadium in the east end of Scotland's biggest city. 

A native of Saltcoats, a village on the coast 30 miles southwest of the city, Lennox was the only exception in a team of a pure-bred Glaswegians whose victory was celebrated by lovers of football the world over. 

As well as being an achievement unlikely to ever be repeated, Celtic's victory was a triumph of verve and imagination over catenaccio, the cloying and cynical defensive stratagem that Inter had used to establish a stranglehold on club football's biggest prize. 

It is testimony to the way football has changed since 1967 that the team Celtic will send out to defend the honour of Scottish football in the UEFA Cup final against FC Porto will almost certainly contain just two home-grown players. 

Rab Douglas should have recovered sufficiently from a thigh injury to take his place between the posts while his Scotland team-mate Paul Lambert will captain a side comprising two Englishmen, two Frenchmen, two Swedes, a Belgian, a Bulgarian and a Northern Irishman. 

The cosmopolitan nature of the current side has done nothing to dim the enthusiasm of the Celtic faithful. Up to 50,000 fans, including contingents from North America, Australia and other far-flung corners of the globe, are expected to descend on Seville in their sombreros to witness what they hope will be another glorious European night for the club. 

With 20,000 Porto fans also expected to travel and the stadium capacity limited to 52,000, Seville is set to pay host to thousands of ticketless fans. 

But local authorities appear relaxed in a city which harbours fond memories of the good-natured revelry that followed Scotland's World Cup match with Brazil here back in 1982. – AFP 

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