Kevin McKenna: Comparisons with Lisbon Lions diminish Rangers' European success

·2-min read
A replica of the Europa League Trophy in Seville ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Europa League Final between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers. (Image: PA)
A replica of the Europa League Trophy in Seville ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Europa League Final between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers. (Image: PA)

IN 1967, a book called Celtic Triumphant was published which chronicled in rich and vibrant detail Scotland’s finest sporting achievement. It was a memoir of Celtic becoming the first British club to lift the European Cup and was written by Ian Peebles, a well-known football scribe of the period whose career included a spell as editor of the Rangers News.

In his introduction, Peebles wrote this: “In Lisbon, a Scottish team in green and white had thrilled a huge TV audience of millions by relentlessly chasing goals and more goals. In ninety memorable minutes they reminded a grateful football world that the purpose of the game is to put the ball in the net. It was the finest performance by a Scottish team anywhere at any time. It was a marvellous thing for Scottish prestige in every way. And in time it may prove to be the best thing that ever happened to the city of Glasgow.”

In the 55 years that have since elapsed the achievements of the men who became known as the Lisbon Lions stand above all others in the history of Scottish football.

Predictably perhaps, comparisons have been made by writers and former players who really ought to know better between Celtic’s Lisbon triumph and Rangers’ splendid run to tonight’s Europa League final in Seville.

Football journalism in some Scottish newspapers includes a requirement for articles to gather as many social media ‘clicks’ in as short a time as possible. These rely on dubious superlatives in a bid to attract interest. It’s not enough, it seems, merely to express pride in the Ibrox club’s exploits this season: outlandish claims must also be made to provide embellishment when none is really needed.

Rangers’ deeds this season should just be accepted for what they are: an unexpected bonus for a club which ten years ago experienced a financial apocalypse and which failed this season to retain its only league title in the last 11.

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