• Rewind to 1967

Jock Stein's Lisbon Lions shock Inter

Rob Phillips-Knight
May 19, 2010
Celtic came into the 1967 European final having already won the league, cup and league cup © Getty Images

The so-called "special one" heads to Madrid aiming to write a new chapter in his own already impressive history book. Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan team sit 90 minutes away from completing a historic treble - the first in the club's history - when they take on Bayern Munich in Saturday's Champions League final.

Inter president Massimo Moratti hired the Portuguese coach in the summer of 2008 with the intention of emulating the 1964 and 1965 European Cup triumphs engineered for his father, Angelo, by legendary manager Helenio Herrera. Mourinho's success in his first two years has been such that many have pronounced him as the true heir to Herrera's crown - a tag not offered easily.

In 1967, Herrera's Inter side were on the edge of similar glory. Top of the league with one game remaining, in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia and already qualified for the European Cup final.

A 1-0 defeat against Padova ended their domestic cup hopes, while a third successive Scudetto eluded them as they lost 1-0 on the final day of the league season to Mantova. Winning the European Cup would be their last chance to save a season that had promised so much.

Despite the obvious disappointment of such defeats, Inter remained clear favourites against a supposedly inferior Celtic side. Herrera, in similar style to Inter's current manager, dismissed any chance of an upset in the lead up to the game, preferring to focus on his array of talented starlets.

"We can have no complaints. Celtic deserved their victory. We were beaten by Celtic's force. Although we lost, the match was a victory for sport."

However, Jock Stein's charges, chasing an unprecedented quadruple, had progressed to the final playing a style of football akin to that of the modern day Barcelona side - a team Mourinho masterminded the downfall of in this year's semi-final. They comfortably beat Dukla Prague - who had previously eliminated Real Madrid - in the semis and arrived in Lisbon with the chance of becoming the first British club side to win a European trophy.

In front of a packed Estádio Nacional, Inter made a quickfire start. Within minutes of the kick-off Celtic defender Jim Craig sent Renato Cappellini tumbling in the area and Alessandro Mazolla netted the resulting penalty. Herrera's side, famed for their rigid back four and ability to defend a lead, looked set. Celtic had other ideas. Perhaps unshackled by falling behind, Celtic's free flowing style soon emerged and the Scottish champions were unfortunate not to be level at the break.

Unperturbed, Stein's men continued to attack and were rewarded on 62 minutes when full-back Tommy Gemmel thundered his side level with a cracking strike. Celtic's assault on the Italian goal gathered pace and with five minutes left to play Gemmel again stormed down the left before pulling the ball back to the onrushing Bobby Murdoch. The hard-edged midfielder sent a low first-time shot thundering toward the net via the guiding right-foot of Stevie Chalmers. Neither player cared whose goal it was. All that mattered was they were ahead. One year after England had celebrated World cup glory, Scottish football had a piece of history to call its own.

Jock Stein is still the most successful manager in Celtic's history © Getty Images

A beaming Stein said after the game: "There is not a prouder man on God's Earth than me at this moment. Winning was important, but it was the way that we won that has filled me with satisfaction.

"We did it by playing football; pure, beautiful, inventive football. There was not a negative thought in our heads."

A humbled Herrera admitted: "We can have no complaints. Celtic deserved their victory. We were beaten by Celtic's force. Although we lost, the match was a victory for sport." Herrera left Inter a year later after another trophyless season. Inter's domestic and European dominance was over.

Mourinho's own future has been the subject of increasing speculation in recent weeks, with a summer move to Real Madrid mooted. Winning his second Champions League title as a manager would certainly keep Moratti and the Nerazzurri faithful happy. It would also increase the clamour among Europe's top clubs, particularly Los Blancos, to attract arguably the best club manager to their team. Win or lose, Mourinho's future in Madrid could well last beyond Saturday's final.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.