FOR a nation offive million, the Scots have a highly impressive record in European football. Their population is half that of countries such as Belgium or Portugal but their haul of trophies compares favourably.
Until the 1990s, when the number of competitions fell from three to two and the Champions League became pre-eminent and dominated by a rich elite, Scottish clubs could be relied upon to do well.
Glasgow Celtic are remembered as the first British club to win the European Cup. But perhaps more importantly they were also the first non-Latin side to lift the trophy.
After their Lisbon success of 1967 Celtic returned to the final three years later, when they lost to Feyenoord. They almost went back in 1972 but lost to Inter Milan on penalties. Rangers, Hibernian and Dundee have made the semi-finals.
Rangers lost two Cup-winners’ Cup finals before finally beating Dynamo Moscow in the Camp Nou, Barcelona, in 1972. Eleven years later plain Mr Alex Ferguson led Aberdeen to a 2-1 extra-time victory over mighty Real Madrid in Gothenburg.
Scots clubs have also made their mark on Europe’s third competition, in all its many guises. Kilmarnock reached the semi-finals of the Fairs Cup in 1967 where they were beaten by Leeds United.
Celtic suffered a 3-2 extra-time defeat to Porto in Seville, in the 2003 UEFA Cup final. And even as late as 2008, Rangers got to the final of what was by now the Europa League, losing 2-0 to Zenit St Petersburg in the City of Manchester Stadium.