Celtic Football Club’s world-renowned green and white hoops have been a signature of the Glasgow side since 1903, when the Celts of the Edwardian era took their existing green and white stripes and opted to switch them sidewards. The move introduced a distinctive design, one that would become a nickname and, moreover, an identity. Celtic’s vintage hooped shirts found widespread fame in their six championship seasons spanning 1904 to 1910. For more than a century since, few shirt styles have been as closely associated with one single club.
50 years on from their career-defining victory, the new Celtic jersey is inspired by the famed Lisbon Lions of 1967, who made the trip to Portugal’s Estádio Nacional and returned home to Scotland as European champions. But what made the Lions and their achievement so special?
Before the Lisbon Lions toppled Inter Milan on 25 May in 1967, no team from the British Isles had ever been crowned European champions. While Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and others would follow, Celtic were the first British team to reach what is now the UEFA Champions League Final – and remain the only Scottish representatives ever to do so.
Celtic’s breakthrough success in Europe was a remarkably local triumph, with all bar one of their 15-man squad born within a ten-mile radius of Celtic Park. With the exception, Bobby Saltcoats, from barely 30 minutes away, Celtic’s crowning achievement of 1967 resonates even greater in today’s era of high-priced foreign imports. It truly was a different age.
Beating the unbeatable
Prior to the match with Celtic, opponents Inter Milan had lost only once (to Real Madrid) in their FOUR more recent European Cup campaigns. Nevertheless, despite being positioned as the final’s rank outsiders, Inter’s reputation did little to throw the Hoops off their game – and Jock Stein’s Bhoys unleashed a remarkable 42 (!) attempts on goal during the Lisbon liaison.
Success did not come without its challenges and Celtic were forced to chase the game for almost an hour, after Italian international Sandro Mazzola dispatched a sixth-minute penalty. Their breakthrough came after 63 minutes, when full-back Tommy Gemmill smashed an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box past goalkeeper Giuliano Sarti. Then, with little more than five minutes remaining, Celtic’s persistence reaped its greatest reward – Stevie Chalmers deftly redirecting a long-range shot to ultimately clinch the coveted European Cup.
The Lisbon final marked one of the first times ever that a large contingent of fans would follow their team abroad. More than 10,000 Celtic supporters made the journey to Portugal that May, with one later remarking it was the first time many of them had ever set foot on a plane! The trip would set the tone for the many overseas odysseys Celtic fans would embark on, from 1970′s final against Feyenoord in Milan to 2003′s UEFA Cup Final with Porto in Seville.
Celtic’s accomplishments in 1967 were not limited to European competition, as the Hoops helped themselves to the Scottish title, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup and Glasgow Cup trophies, completing an extraordinary quintuple. Winning more than 50 games that campaign and scoring almost 200 goals in competitive play, Jock Stein’s class of 1967 set the benchmark for all Celtic sides to try and emulate – providing inspiration that stands the test of time.
Finally, the Lisbon Lions’ victory might have been part of a unique Scottish double, had history panned out differently. Six days after Celtic’s success, rivals Rangers were set to contest their first Cup Winners’ Cup in Nuremburg. However, much like on the domestic front, the continental glory would be all Celtic’s, as Rangers were edged out 1-0 by Bayern Munich.
In recent years, there have been various re-workings of the victorious club’s hooped jerseys, from the markedly thicker hoops worn in the early to mid-1990s to the narrower, streamlined hoops adopted in 2012. Now, with tradition at its core, the newest Celtic home shirt for 2017-18 sees New Balance embellish a conventional hooped look with a commemorative golden tint, celebrating the Lisbon Lions and their game-changing accomplishment of fifty years ago. With its signature green hoops resplendent, this winning NB refresh reflects the timeless and trailblazing character synonymous with Celtic FC, complete with a special edition crest that honours the famous final in authentic Portuguese wording. From innovation to institution, the history of the Hoops (and their hoops!) continues on… as the mighty Lisbon Lions roar again.
Live the Legend. AC
Pre-order Celtic’s new home shirt, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions, here.