Scottish Premiership champions Celtic will begin their UEFA Champions League qualification campaign tonight with a home tie against Icelandic league winners Stjarnan.
Scotland stars Scott Brown, Leigh Griffiths, Charlie Mulgrew, Craig Gordon & James Forrest are all set to feature and will be aiming to fire Celtic into the next round, with the ultimate aim of reaching the tournament’s lucrative group stages.
Here we take a look at Scotland’s impact on the Champions League and how the country has contributed since its creation in 1992:
1992/93 – The Battle of Britain
The first year of the newly branded UEFA Champions League threw up a tantalising cross-border clash between Rangers and Leeds at the Second Round stage. The Ibrox side, managed by former Scotland boss Walter Smith, won the first leg 2-1 thanks to Ally McCoist’s 37th minute strike. ‘Super Ally’ was the hero again in the return tie, scoring to give the Scottish side a 4-2 aggregate victory.
- FACT | Leeds midfielder Gordon Strachan and Rangers’ Stuart McCall – now working together with the Scotland National Team – played on opposing teams.
1996/97 - Klasse Paul Lambert!
A 28-year old Paul Lambert became the first Scot to win a Champions League medal whilst at Borussia Dortmund in 1997. The German giants defeated Atletico Madrid and Manchester United on their way to the final, where they faced Juventus at Olympiastadion in Munich. Lambert played superbly, marshaling the threat of Zinedine Zidane and helping Dortmund to a 3-1 win for their only Champions League title to date.
- FACT | Lambert and Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) remain the only UK-born players to win the Champions League with a foreign side
2000/01 – Matteo comes close
A Leeds United team – featuring Scotland international Dominic Matteo - surprised everyone by reaching the semi-finals of the 2000/01 Champions League, where they played Valencia. Matteo had a shot cleared off the line in the first leg at Elland Road but couldn’t stop the Yorkshiremen going down 3-0 on aggregate.
- FACT | Matteo was the third Scot to play for Leeds in the Champions League, following in the footsteps of Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan
2001/02 - Zidane scores at Hampden
All eyes were on Glasgow as Hampden Park played host to the 2002 Champions League Final. The game was remembered for a stunning half-volley from Zidane that gave Real Madrid a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
2007/08 – Fergie & Fletcher rule in Moscow
Manchester United beat Chelsea on penalties in a tense final in Moscow to seal their 2nd Champions League triumph – both led by Sir Alex Ferguson. Edinburgh-born Darren Fletcher had to settle for a place on the bench but was instrumental in the English team’s march to the final, becoming just the second Scottish player to lift the famous trophy.
- FACT | All four of Manchester United's European trophies have been won with Scottish managers.
2012/13 – Tony Watt breaks Barca hearts
Celtic manager Neil Lennon becomes the third man to lead a Scottish team into the Champions League Last 16. A disappointing 5-0 aggregate defeat to Juventus was preceded by fantastic Group stage wins over Spartak Moscow and Barcelona, who fell to a shock 2-1 defeat at Parkhead. 18-year old Tony Watt scored a famous winner that night after coming off the bench.
- FACT | Charlie Mulgrew, Kris Commons, James Forrest and Scott Brown all featured for Celtic in the Last 16 ties vs. Juventus
Other memorable moments
Only two Scottish teams have featured in the UEFA Champions League group stages – Celtic and Rangers – while a further two have played in the qualifying stages. Hearts were the first side to represent Edinburgh in 2006/07 with a team that featured the likes of Craig Gordon, Neil McCann and Steven Pressley. Despite a 3-0 agg win over Siroki Brijeg in the second qualifying round, the Jambos fell to AEK Athens at the play-off stage. Motherwell took part in 2012/13 but were defeated by another Greek team, Panathinaikos, in the third qualifying round.
English teams have featured regularly in the Champions League latter stages, with Scottish players at the heart of many of those sides. Former Scotland captain Gary McAllister featured in Liverpool’s run to the 2001/02 Quarter-finals while Steven Caldwell played for Newcastle United in the Second Group stage in 2003.