Lisbon Lions: 1967 European Cup win put Celtic among the elite - Jim Craig

Jim Craig
Lisbon Lion Jim Craig spoke at a civic reception at Glasgow City Chambers on Wednesday

Jim Craig says Celtic's 1967 European Cup triumph cemented the club's place among the continent's elite.

Craig was part of the team that overcame Internazionale 2-1 in the final to become the first British side to lift the trophy.

He says that is why, 50 years on from that famous victory, Celtic remains a club recognised worldwide.

"It played a major part in our history, it put Celtic's name among the big boys as a European Cup-winner," Craig said.

"That's what all these teams are in operation to try to do.

"Some of the biggest names in football haven't done it. Some of the wealthiest haven't done it. So Celtic's name is up there."

Craig hopes that one day a Celtic side can repeat the heroics of the Lisbon Lions and claim European club football's biggest prize: "I would certainly hope so," he said.

However, he echoed the view of club chairman Ian Bankier in saying that while such ambitions must be preserved, the financial restrictions on Scottish clubs make it an enormous challenge to compete with Europe's top clubs.

"It will be more difficult from now on as the money you need to buy players is in other countries rather than Scotland," Craig told BBC Scotland. "So it will be more difficult for Celtic to do that.

"What I'm sure [Celtic manager] Brendan Rodgers is aiming for - and he's done a great job so far - next season is to get into the group stage of the Champions League.

"Once you're in there it's a learning process. Three home games, three away games, unlike the old days one bad result doesn't mean you're out the competition. If we had a bad day when it was a knockout competition then you were really struggling.

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"If you have six games to get one of the top two places then the club can certainly do that. That's what Brendan will be aiming for. The more you practise the better you get and you never know what might happen in the future."

Fellow Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld also hopes the club can one day repeat their 1967 triumph and praised Rodgers, who has led Celtic to the Scottish Premiership title and the League Cup this season, with a Scottish Cup final against Aberdeen to come.

"Jock Stein said to us the first day he became manager, 'this is your era, now make history' and I don't think we let him down," said Auld.

"Brendan to me is a bubbly type of person and I think he'd be great in the dressing room. He's proved that with the success we've had this season in winning comfortably.

"I think we'll win, I think we'll win the European Cup again. I don't want to put too much onus on the present days but they have the ability and they've got the goalscorers from different positions."

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