The morning papers had a good piece of news for all of us with Celtic’s interests at heart;
Inter Ace Is Out
‘Luis Suarez, the master-mind of the Inter Milan team, will definitely not play against Celtic in the European Cup final at Lisbon on Wednesday.
Suarez is in hospital today suffering from a suspected torn cartilage and may have to have an immediate operation.
That is not the end of the bad news for Milan today, for also left behind in Italy will be the Brazilian international outside-right Jair, who was carried off the field yesterday writhing in pain, as Inter, playing some of their worst football of the season, struggled to draw with Fiorentina at the San Siro stadium. Jair has a badly-wrenched knee.
Well, that was some good news and as we went ahead with our own final training session on Scottish soil before heading off to Portugal, it was, to use a Glaswegian expression – ‘the talk o’ the steamie’.
The information had been passed down from the management to the players as soon as we arrived and as we did not know a great deal about Inter, we were very happy to hear the bad tidings. That does sound dreadful but this is just before a European Cup final and we were all human, so for us to hear news that the opposition is going to be without two of their best players was like Santa coming early and we went about the session with a spring in our step. Which was just as well, as we were put through the wringer that morning, the last day of the concentrated work before the final.
You will notice that we seemed to get a lot of our information from the papers and that was very much the way it was back in those days. We were not given much inside info at that time for any match.
The Boss had been to see Inter play Juventus and had gone through what he had picked up with the players down at Seamill but, as a rule, we went to training, got showered and changed afterwards, found out the team – sometimes – and then, unless told something specific, left the ground. There might have been a lot of chat amongst ourselves – and there was – but very little official info coming down from the top.
By contrast, the press who came to see the Boss – every day at that period – could put questions to him that a player did not get the chance to do. So, when I picked up my copies of the later editions of the evening papers, I found out more news about the then current situation;
Jock Pulls ‘Fast One’
‘Jock Stein has won an off-the-field victory over his Inter Milan counterpart, Helenio Herrera, by fixing a training session for his Celtic players at the National Stadium, Lisbon for 5.30 tomorrow – exactly 48 hours before the European Cup final starts.
Mr Stein said –“I wanted the players to have a work-out on the pitch on which the game is being played…..and at the time of the kick-off”.
And at the bottom of the article came the news that the Boss had taken time out from his preparations to go and collect a new car. Was he celebrating in advance?
Anyway, after all that info, gossip, revelation etc, whatever you want to call it, it was time for me to get myself ready to leave with the squad the following day…and also make sure that my Dad got his stuff prepared for his own trip.
By then, I am glad to say, he had thrown off his reservations and was really looking forward to seeing the final and, as he told me, savouring victory.
And so say all of us!