The 90s were a magical time for most as Cool Britannia dominated the airwaves and football ushered in new era with Sky Sports revolutionising how we enjoy the beautiful game.
But tell that to Celtic fans – who endured a torrid decade for the most part with a defiant title win to halt Rangers’ 10-in-a-row bid appearing as a brief moment of respite rather than a changing of the guard.
And a roaring run in Europe leaves us spoiled for choice when it comes to picking the top 21 moments. John Hartson ‘s winner against Liverpool, Kieran Tierney ‘s hospital dash to return to Hampden and Jozo Simunovic ‘s crunching tackle on Kenny Miller all narrowly missed out.
But without any further ado – here’s the 21 most iconic Celtic moments of the 21st century.
THAT Larsson chip
(Image: Daily Record)
After years of Rangers dominance, the super Swede’s moment of magic during the pivotal 6-2 title win ushered in a new era under O’Neill. The nutmeg of Bert Konterman is cheeky but the actual pitching wedge-esque dink over a helpless Stefan Klos is truly inspired. It was the day the clouds finally lifted and Celtic’s Rangers inferiority complex was banished, the start of a five-year thrill ride under the Irishman. The overall result was vital but Larsson’s genius set the tone for a sea change in Scottish football.
Make it a Treble
O’Neill’s magical debut season was capped off in the perfect way as Celtic raced past Hibs to secure a 3-0 Scottish Cup Final win on a sun-kissed day at Hampden. Larsson was at the double and Jackie McNamara was also on target. The Hoops supporters had watched Rangers win 11 of the previous 12 titles but the 2000/01 season was all about Celtic as the Irishman masterminded only the third Treble in the club’s history.
Trick or treating Juventus
The white-knuckle 4-3 win over the Italian giants didn’t earn Celtic a place in the second Champions League group stage (yes, that was a thing back then) but it did sound the alarm that Glasgow’s east end was a place best avoided for Europe’s best teams. The Parkhead atmosphere left a telling impact on Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet as Celtic served up a Halloween thrill ride, with Chris Sutton’s outrageous volley the pick of the bunch.
Men against Bhoys
Graeme Souness’ biggest regret is unquestionably the time he speared a Galatasaray flag on the halfway line of rivals Fenerbahce’s stadium but a close second must be when he uttered the phrase “men against boys”. The Blackburn boss said the infamous words after his side’s 1-0 UEFA Cup defeat to the Hoops, but those words resonated inside the Celtic dressing room and the 2-0 win at Ewood Park settled any debate as the Hoops planted their own flag on the former Rangers manager’s home turf.
(Image: Daily Record)
On a rain-soaked night in a stadium missing stands behind each goals, all the warning signs of potential heartache were ringing loud. But trust in Larsson to provide another magic moment to fire his side into the UEFA Cup Final on a night when time was running out. Boavista were a negative side desperate to spoil the Hoops’ party but the club’s ultimate talisman wasn’t going to be denied. Their keeper Ricardo was reduced to a panicked mess in the closing stages but his desperation was in vain as Celtic savoured their glorious achievement.
The ultimate day in the sun
A Euro away day should aways be savoured but a trip to Seville to watch your team is something extra special… and Celtic fans made the most of it. That sojourn to Spain remains a special time for many despite Jose Mourinho’s Porto lifting the trophy. Larsson’s deadly double wasn’t enough to secure the club’s first Euro title since 1967 but fans created memories to last a lifetime.
Nou Camp heroics
(Image: SNS/Alan Harvey)
O’Neill’s side endured their fair share of late Euro heartache but his heroes of Barcelona stood tall to stun European football’s in-form team as Ronaldinho and Co were bundled out of the UEFA Cup. Alan Thompson’s strike in the first leg gave them something to hold onto as John Kennedy and David Marshall came of age to secure a clean sheet. Any re-run of Seville was extinguished as a Juan Roman Riquelme-inspired Villarreal side ended their dreams in the quarter finals.
Sutton at the whitewash
Sutton became an instant hero with his double in the 6-2 game followed by his “put Rangers in their place” vow and the Englishman kept his end of the bargain during five trophy-laden seasons. His crowning achievement in green and white was surely the day he put Frank De Boer on his backside and produced his own magical chip to make it five consecutive wins over Rangers during the 2003/04 season.
It was a particularly cruel prank by Celtic to leave a load of raw onions lying around Parkhead on the day Larsson said his Paradise farewell. Adults were barely able to say goodbye as they wiped tears from their eyes and the man himself was filled with emotion as he addressed his adoring public after a customary double against Dundee United. The Hoops superstar was all smiles six days’ later as his brace sealed the Scottish Cup. But it was the raw emotion of his final Paradise star show that still resonates 16 years on.
Naka sinks United
Gordon Strachan had a hard act to follow in O’Neill but he became something of a Euro specialist after recovering from his Artmedia nightmare. And Celtic’s crowning achievement under his continental watch was the night free-kick expert Shunsuke Nakamura produced his greatest ever strike to sink Sir Alex Ferguson and Cristiano Ronaldo and earn a place in the Champions League last 16. Artur Boruc’s penalty save to deny Louis Saha moments
Celtic have had many heroes throughout their history but perhaps Tommy Burns is the man who understood Celtic better than anyone else. Calton’s greatest son was revered by all and Strachan and his Celtic achievers evoked the spirit of Tommy to roar back and win three-in-a-row in 2008. The Tannadice party that followed was in memory of the man who had lost his brave battle with cancer only weeks earlier. A fitting tribute.
Paddy’s perfect in Paisley
Tony Mowbray’s nine-month reign was an unmitigated disaster but he did get a up close and personal view of one of finest Celtic goals of the century. Cult hero Paddy McCourt’s wretched injury record meant he couldn’t be relied upon but the Irishman had magic in his feet and his stunner against St Mirren was exceptional. McCourt jinked past five players before slamming home from a tight angle – a highlight of an otherwise forgettable 2009/10 season.
Rangers thumping secures title
It was the perfect day at Parkhead as Brendan Rodgers’ all-conquering side wrapped up a seventh straight title in the most devastating fashion against their floundering rivals. Three goals before half-time – a double from Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest’s first derby strike – set up a second half party in the blazing April sunshine. Celtic racked up five goals in just 53 minutes and fans’ only minor disappointment from this was they didn’t go and score more. It’s no exaggeration to suggest they could’ve hit double figures, but the foot was noticeably taken off the gas following fifth.
El Hadji Diouf has never been the most likeable of characters. He was described as “lower than a sewer rat” by Neil Warnock for allegedly mocking an injured opponent, and sparked the ire of Celtic fans by spitting into the crowd during a UEFA Cup match. Diouf coming up against Scott Brown was always going to create fireworks, and the two clashed throughout a fiery clash. That only served to wind up the Celtic captain and, after pinging in a left-footed equaliser he turned to the Rangers man, arms aloft, in the pose that would forever be known as ‘The Broony’.
Barca birthday present
Celtic celebrated their 125th anniversary in stunning style as they defeated Barcelona and their box-office victory over Barcelona is arguably the club’s greatest of all time (outwith Lisbon, of course). Victor Wanyama got the party started and super sub Tony Watt fired his side into a unbelievable 2-0 lead. Lionel Messi’s late strike had Parkhead fretting but the outpouring of emotion at the final whistle may never be replicated.
Celtic had never recorded an away win in the Champions League until the night Samaras netted at the death against Spartak Moscow to send the traveling supporters into raptures. Lennon’s side followed that victory up with a 2-1 triumph at Parkhead to secure a place in the last 16 at the expense of Benfica. Cue a rousing rendition of “London Calling” as fans dared to dream of a place in the Final at Wembley.
Ronny Deila’s two-year stay in Glasgow unravelled towards the end but there was real signs of optimism during his first campaign in Glasgow. And his Celtic side never looked more dangerous than the night they gave Inter a serious fright after a dozy start had them trailing 2-0. The 3-3 comeback was secured as John Guidetti latched onto Liam Henderson’s inventive through ball to fire into the roof of the net. The Hoops were narrowly defeated 1-0 in the second leg as their Euro dream ended.
Brendan’s grand arrival
You know you’ve made the right managerial call when 12,000 supporters descended upon Parkhead on a Monday to welcome their new boss. Brendan Rodgers’ midnight flit to Leicester in 2019 still rankles among the Hoops support but his telling impact is unquestionable as he delivered seven consecutive trophies during a thrilling two-and-a-half year stay in Glasgow. Celtic fans were in desperate need of a pick-me-up after Rangers’ shock Scottish Cup semi-final win and Rodgers certainly provided that and the signs were positive from the get go after a day to remember at his grand unveiling.
Dembele’s statement of intent
It’s easy to forget now but there was a sense of mild panic heading into Rodgers’ first game against Rangers with red-hot Leigh Griffiths on the sidelines. But any fears were quickly allayed as the Frenchman powered home a first-half header before netting two more goals to become the first Hoops star to secure a hat-trick since Stevie Chalmers half a century earlier. A new Celtic hero was born.
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Rodgers exudes calmness on the touchline but even he let out a gasp of relief as Tom Rogic’s last-minute winner sunk Aberdeen and secured an Invincible Treble to cap off an incredible undefeated domestic campaign. Derek McInnes’ side were brilliant on the day and that made the victory even more special. TV footage of keeper Craig Gordon sinking to his knees and fans going crazy in the background will be replayed for years to come.
Have we left the best to last? Celtic’s fearsome European run this century might only be fully appreciated by future generations and the win against Serie A title challengers in the iconic Stadio Olimpico will be recommended viewing. Lennyball was in full effect as both teams pushed for a winner before Olivier Ntcham effortless lob in stoppage secured Euro progress and another signature win.