x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Club that continues to be defined by its fans

my team Charlie Tully, Jimmy McGrory, Jimmy Johnstone, Kenny Dalglish and Henrik Larsson have all owned their sliver of Paradise in playing at Celtic Park.

More than 80,000 Celtic supporters travelled to Spain to watch their side in the 2003 Uefa Cup final.
More than 80,000 Celtic supporters travelled to Spain to watch their side in the 2003 Uefa Cup final.

Charlie Tully, Jimmy McGrory, Jimmy Johnstone, Kenny Dalglish and Henrik Larsson have all owned their sliver of Paradise in playing at Celtic Park. There is an exquisite quote inside the collar of the green-and-white hooped jersey that romantically sums up the ethos of this fabled club. "It's not the creed nor nationality that counts. It's the man himself," said Willie Maley, Celtic's first manager. Maley was appointed in 1897, 11 years after the Scottish club was founded by the Roman Catholic monk Brother Walfrid to help feed the poor in the east end of Glasgow. While the players protrude, Celtic continue to be defined by its fans.

Buoyed by an enduring Irish diaspora, over 146,000 people witnessed Celtic down Aberdeen in the 1937 Scottish Cup final. It remains a record attendance in Europe. Celtic have an estimated fan base of nine million people. Their pull is magnetic when one considers they have not left the parochial environs of a Scottish league they have won over 40 times. Following Celtic becomes part of the daily diet of one's life. Fans believe their side have the best array of supporters.

Over 80,000 travelled to Seville to watch Martin O'Neill's team lose to FC Porto in the 2003 Uefa Cup final. Their good nature, grace in defeat and willingness to embrace the host city saw them showered with plaudits and the Fifa Fair Play award. Celtic were the first British side to carry off the European Cup under Jock Stein in 1967 - the only club to do so with players from their home country. Celtic remain a club unique in spirit.