Video: The long walk up the tunnel at Lisbon’s Estadio National

Earlier this month, I was able to make the journey to Lisbon to visit the Estadio National, the ground where Celtic won the European Cup in 1967. 

During my time visiting the national stadium, I was kindly shown around by the groundskeeper, who has become a massive Celtic fan. Without his helpful guidance, I may have missed one of the most incredible parts of the stadium: the long walk up the tunnel.

Unlike more conventional tunnels, which come out through the main stand and onto the centre of the pitch, the tunnel at Estadio National instead begins under pitch-level, and comes out at the back corner of the pitch. The tunnel itself is a fair distance and takes a good minute to walk down.

In any case, as I walked down the shaded tunnel and towards the stairs which would take me to the pitch, a sense of reality washed over me as I realised this was exactly where all the Lisbon Lions stood as they prepared for the game. I also remembered the stories that were told by the Lions who started singing ‘The Celtic Song’ to prepare themselves.

As reported by the Celtic Wiki, this is what some of the Lisbon Lions said about their long wait in the tunnel…

Billy McNeill: “We came out of the dressing room and through a courtyard, before going into a long tunnel. They held us there for a while. I remember turning round and the Italian team were looking absolutely magnificent.

It’s quite an inspiring strip, the blue and black stripes, the black shorts, black stockings, the tanned legs, the athleticism of their team and the handsome Italian faces. Then out of nowhere Bertie Auld, a real Glaswegian character, started singing ‘The Celtic Song’ and we all joined in. You should have seen the expressions on the faces of the Italians.”

John Clark: “They must have got the shock of their lives – how do you deal with a team singing a football song seconds before they walk out to play in a big game.”

Bobby Lennox: “The next thing we were up the steps and suddenly the green and white scarves went up from the big Celtic support. It was wonderful.”

Billy McNeill: “The biggest thing I had to do as captain was in illustrating to the team that we had nothing to fear.”

Overall, it was an incredible experience and I would highly recommend visiting the stadium if you are ever nearby in Portugal. The rush you experience walking up the tunnel and onto the pitch is wholeheartedly magical and allows you to experience a piece of history exactly how it was.

Willie Wallace’s tie 

I have been fortunate enough to meet many of the Lisbon Lions, in particular Tommy Gemmell and Willie Wallace. Indeed earlier this week I graduated up at Aberdeen University and the tie I worn was given to our family by Willie, an official Lisbon Lions tie.  It was worn with great pride.

Tags Estadio National

1 Comment

  1. What a magnificent achievement by a club from a wee country which never really put the red carpet out that team should have represented Scotland next international but that is how sfa treated Celtic_fc_1888 who won everything that year and was kick off the pitch in world cup club but no matter wgmhat no one Can wipe that off the board history

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