March 9 – Jock Stein Takes Over Celtic

THE suits at Celtic made a very wise decision today in 1965, as they handed the top job at Celtic Park to the soon-to-be legendary Jock Stein.

Prior to Jock’s arrival Celtic were in a bit of pickle. With a trophy cabinet that had been picking up nothing but dust for the last eight seasons (see kids, Scottish football was competitive once!) something needed to be done to revitalise the team.

Stein had been a former club captain during his playing career at Celtic, with his most notable successes being a League and cup double in 1954 and victory in the Coronation Cup a year earlier. When the Glasgow giants came a-calling he left his position as manager of Hibs and became Celtic’s first ever non-Catholic manager.

Within six weeks Stein had already delivered the Scottish Cup, with a 3-2 win over Dunfermline and in his first full season he guided the Bhoys to the title and got them to the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, where they lost to Liverpool on away goals.

Stein then began to turn the screw. A domestic treble followed the next season and his achievements in the 1966/67 season defined his reign at the club.

Not only did Celtic become the first British club to win the European Cup, defeating Helenio Herrera’s suffocating La Grande Inter side in Lisbon, they did it with a side consisting entirely of players born with 30 miles of Celtic Park.

Bill Shankley, who knew a thing or two about the game, said at the time: “John, you’re immortal now.” He wasn’t wrong. The Queen honoured Stein with a CBE, which allegedly would’ve been a knighthood if Celtic hadn’t have had four players sent off in an Intercontinental Cup final match against Racing Club.

At the end of Stein’s tenure at Celtic he had won more trophies than you can shake the proverbial stick at. As you’re asking, his final haul read: ten League Championships, eight Scottish Cups, seven Scottish League Cups and the cherry on top, one European Cup.

Eventually though, the trophies slowed down, particularly after Jock was badly injured in a car crash in 1975. In 1978 he moved south to take over at Leeds United, another team that were on a downward spiral, but he would only last for 44 days, just as Brian Clough had four years earlier. Sequel to The Damned United anyone?

Maybe not. Stein’s departure came not from the bickering, in-fighting and ego’s that marked Cloughy’s time at Elland Road, but because he had been offered the Scotland job.

After leading his country to the 1982 World Cup and Scotland’s inevitable first round exit, Stein would tragically suffer a heart attack at the end of a World Cup qualifier against Wales at Ninian Park in September 1985. He died shortly afterwards, aged 62.

Since his death, Stein has received almost constant plaudits for his achievements at Celtic and now has a stand at Celtic Park named after him. See Scottish fans paying tribute to the great man following his death and see what was happening to Jock’s most famous victims today here.

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March 19 - Heart to Heart | On This Football Day  on March 19th, 2009

[...] health after several high-profile incidents with top bosses. Most famously and tragically, Jock Stein died on the touchline during a match between Scotland and Wales. Graeme Souness and Dario Gradi [...]

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