It was 52 years to the day since Billy McNeill became the first British player to lift the European Cup and yesterday Celtic raised another cup in the most fitting tribute to the famous Lions of Lisbon.
Neil Lennon’s side won the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 win over Hearts at Hampden Park to secure a history-making treble treble – winning all three domestic trophies for the third consecutive season.
Their victory came 52 years to the day captain McNeill, who died last month, just days before fellow Lion Stevie Chalmers, led his side to a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in Lisbon to become the first British club to win the European Cup.
Their achievements were marked by the thousands of supporters at Scotland’s national stadium who participated in a spectacular mosaic tribute to the Lisbon legends before the match, revealing their numbers – McNeill’s 5 and Chalmers’ 9 – while the Celtic players wore both their numbers on their shorts.
After the game, another Lion, Bertie Auld paid tribute to his club and his lost teammates, saying: “The great thing about Celtic is that they are history makers. I signed in January 1954 and all I was told about was what they achieved at that particular time. Then it came to the likes of ourselves, the Lisbon Lions.
“That’s the great thing about Celtic. They will be there whenever history has to be made.”
Neil Lennon, who was announced as the club’s permanent manager at the final whistle, said: “You’ll never see this again in your lifetime.
“We may never see it again so we have to pay tribute to them, they are a remarkable bunch of players who have done so much good for the club, brought so much pride to the club.
“To do it on the 25th of May, it is just all the stars aligned, they are a magnificent group of players and it has been a privilege working with them.”
Earlier in the day, Natalie Chalmers hyped up the momentum for the game as she revealed to fans she was getting married on the day her grandfather Stevie’s goal secured Celtic’s greatest ever victory in Lisbon.
She said: “Cup final day. Day papa scored the winning goal and the day I marry my best friend.”
While Line of Duty favourite Martin Compston was among the famous Celtic supporters who rallied for the occasion.
He took to the pitch to celebrate the win and praised double goal-scorer Odsonne Edouard.
He said: “Said it before and I’ll say it again. Big games big goals, that’s what French Eddy does.”
Former player Stiliyan Petrov also showed his support by posing with the Scottish Cup on Twitter.
He said: “COYBIG (Come on you Bhoys in green) let’s bring this beauty home and make history.”
Meanwhile, there were reports that security at Hampden Park had to move Hearts fans.
Photos circulated of about 40 personnel in hi-vis vests cordoning off the supporters. It is not clear if they were sitting among Celtic fans.
Glasgow’s most senior police officer Chief Superintendent Brian McInulty, however, praised policing at the match.
He said: “As always, I was extremely impressed with the professionalism and commitment of everyone involved in today’s operation.”
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