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Seville 2003 Homepage | Match | Match Pictures | Fans Pictures | Road to Seville

UEFA Cup Final 2003 - Kerrydale StreetTrivia

  • Celtic's first European Final since 1970.
  • Third European final for Celtic, but our first UEFA Cup final.
  • A then record number of travelling fans to a final from a single club (est 60-70k).
  • 35k Celtic fans were in the stadium.
  • Celtic fans won the FIFA Fair Play Award for behaviour.
  • No Celtic supporters arrested on the trip, a magnificent achievement!
  • Henrik Larsson scored his 200th goal for Celtic in this game.
  • Porto's win meant they were the first Portugese team to take the UEFA cup home; if we'd won we'd have been Scotland's first (Dundee Utd lost in the final in the 1980's).
  • Porto went on to win the European Cup the next year.
  • First UEFA Cup final to be won on the "silver goal"
  • As a wind-up to the Rangers fans, the joke was "You'll be watching 'The Bill' while we're in Seville!!!" (for those who don't know, "The Bill" was a popular police soap on TV in the UK)
  • The journey of matches to the final was nicknamed "The Road to Seville".
  • In April 2010, highly regarded "World Soccer" magazine ranked this match amongst the top 50 games played since first publication of their magazine (50 years).


Can the Seville game be ranked as one of the pinnacles of Celtic's history? Definitely, but not in the way that football finals are generally eulogised about. To begin to see the UEFA Cup Final of 2003, it must be noted that Celtic has been a Lazarus case in many ways, having been as close as could be to bankruptcy in 1994 and then we had a continual embarrassment of results both at home and Europe throughout the bulk of the 90s. Martin O'Neill's management rein changed the whole show in Scotland, and reaching the final in Seville was a very high profile result reflecting our return to respectability.

The centre of it all may have been the match but comment can't go without mentioning the vast numbers of Celtic fans in Seville. Estimates of around 60,000 are likely the best figure. A vast sea of green, white and gold spread around the whole town (in many ways too small to manage the numbers) with a surprisingly negligible number of problems! People had flown in from all over the globe to be at this match. The camaraderie has become legendary. For many, the highlight of their Celtic supporting lives.

As for the game, again must first speak about the atmosphere which was magical to watch. The most emotional and tense Celtic atmosphere you could imagine. For those of us who had to watch it from afar, it didn't half make you proud.

It was not the first time both teams had met, having played each other home and away in the Champs League beforehand in the previous season. We were confident, we were strong and had a nearly full strength squad. John Hartson was the most notable omission unable to make the final due to injury/surgery which was a sore one taking in that his away goal against Liverpool was a milestone along the "Road to Seville".

The game kicked off with the assembled Celtic fans all optimistic, but from the start it was obvious that this was a football clash in playing styles & philosophy as much as anything else. Porto's game was were very much a continental playing style whilst Celtic's was very much more a physical British approach. This ended up meaning that any time Celtic tackled the Porto players dived or exaggerated the challenge, and sadly the referee was too soft with the Porto players and gave them the advantage against ourselves. The amount of rolling about the ground after a tackle by Porto was embarrassing to say the least.

It was Deco (Porto's Portugese/Brazilian player) who got their first chance (coming from a dive!). Thankfully nothing from it, and the first half was generally balanced in many ways with shots on goal from both sides. Just before the interval though Porto scored with Derlei scoring from a rebound. Disappointing, and Porto were beginning to frustrate the Celtic fans and players alike with their tactics and behaviour.

The second half and Ghod (Henrik Larsson) scored within two minutes of the restart with a fabulous header coming from a cross by Agathe. A genius goal by the marvel. However, then this lead didn't last long with Alenichev scoring on 54mins. Then remarkably Larsson does it again and scores quickly to equalise at 2-2!!! A final to remember. A great start to the second half.

No more goals, and the match moved into extra-time. Tired legs were on show, and then a rash challenge saw Bobo red-carded, and there was little argument but a sad loss for a great player. This gave impetus to Porto to gain the advantage and score, which they did through Derlei taking advantage of a spilled ball by Rab Douglas from a shot by Ferreira.

A late sending off of a Porto player at 120mins but too little too late for us to take advantage with even numbers. Porto wasted time at the end of game burning up crucial seconds to drag the match to its conclusion which riled many.

Full-time and we'd lost. It simply wasn't to be.

Truth is that we were second best on the night, but we were right in it to the very end, and in that sense its fair to say we could have won! Could have? Should have? It's all in the past now.

Note, this was the first game to use the silver goal rule, although it did not affect the outcome of the game as Porto scored in the second half of extra time, thus meaning the game had to be played until the end of extra time. (A 'Silver Goal' is when the first scorer in the extra time period has the advantage to win but you still play to the end of the half, the losing team has to score more, an equalizer is not sufficient).

We were real winners, with praise flying in from all around the world, with extensive coverage everywhere due to the party atmosphere of the whole event. Newspapers were falling over themselves to interview the team and management, whilst masses of articles were written on the fans and the good nature of the whole day. With fans flying in from literally all the corners of the globe, it's not surprising that there was global interest from the media. There were nationalities from all four corners of the world, and as always the St Pauli fans joined in the party by coming over to support us. Paeans of praise from even establishment newspapers in the UK (Times, Telegraph etc) showed this to be the best public relations exercise ever. A gem of a day for the club and all our supporters.

The stories the fans can tell you can go on forever, and there are plenty of those. The pictures from the match and the parties outside painted a vivid world that the rest of us can only wish we were there.

There were though two main counterblasts. Firstly, was an article by Tom Lappin (The Scotsman) who criticised Celtic's tactics and naivety over criticising Porto for diving, referencing that Man U faced similar problems as we had in years gone by and adapted their game to make less challenges (to great effect). Secondly, "World Soccer magazine" (the nearest to the bible that the game has) was also harsh on Celtic regarding our game style as overly aggressive. Harsh and excessive the criticisms may be but the game is determined now by the continental style, and MoN's management team have to take criticism for not adapting our game for the final, in that we can't be as physical and direct in the European game as we can be in the domestic games. Maybe then Bobo wouldn't have been sent off for a rash challenge, and maybe there would have been less diving and we'd not have played into their hands, but then again how longs a piece of string?

On the other hand, wouldn't football be boring if there was little tackling? If most challenges were taken out the game, it would be just a poor game of basketball, and we'd all have to play the game in the same way. Tackling is a great crucial part of the game, and it's the diving and dramatics that were the biggest problem in that UEFA Cup Final, but we did let them dictate the game by these tactics. In any case, the idea that Celtic are an overly physical side is laughable! They haven't seen the hammer throwers in the other SPL sides, and the arguments against us are really deflecting attention away from the real issues, where the referee played into Porto's hands and should have had the bottle to put his foot down on the diving and time-wasting antics of the opposition.

Regardless of the result, a day to be proud of, not just for the players but also for the fans. For this, UEFA rewarded the fans with the "FIFA Fair Play Award". Who says we ended the season empty-handed?

Last word goes to Jose Mourinho (the Porto manager for the final) speaking in 2008 about that game:
"When I was at Porto my team also played in the UEFA Cup final against a Scottish side - but it was Celtic. I've never seen such emotional people. It was unbelievable!"


Celtic:- (4-4-2)
Manager:- Martin O'Neill

Douglas, Agathe, Balde, Mjallby, Valgaeren (Laursen 64) Lennon, Lambert (McNamara 76), Petrov (Maloney 104), Thompson, Sutton, Larsson.Subs Not Used:- Hedman, Sylla, Fernandez, Smith.Sent Off:- Balde (95).Booked:- Valgaeren, Lennon, Balde, Petrov. Goals:- Larsson 47, 57

FC Porto:-

Manager:- Jose Mourinho.
Vitor Baia, Ferreira, Nuno Valente, Jorge Costa (Pedro Emanuel 71), Ricardo Carvalho, Costinha (Ricardo Costa 9), Alenichev, Maniche, Deco, Capucho (Marco Ferreira 98), Derlei.Subs Not Used:- Nuno, Cesar Peixoto, Clayton, Tiago.Sent Off:- Nuno Valente (120).Booked:- Nuno Valente, Derlei, Maniche, Marco Ferreira. Goals:- Derlei 45, 115, Alenichev 54.

Att:- 52,972
Ref:- Lubos Michel (Slovakia).Stadium:- Olympic Stadium (Seville, Spain).





BBC Streams

Seville DVD DVD

To everyone's surprise, Celtic released a quality DVD (by its admittedly then low standards) which covered the whole run to the final (aptly named "The Road to Seville"). Analysis and comment by the affable veteran of Scottish sports' journalism Archie MacPherson livens up the DVD going through each round with all the goals and highlights.

Many wonderful highlights, but TBH most fans will stop the DVD just as the final starts (too painful to watch), but at least are able to see the many fans messing around town and in the fountains!

As an added bonus there is a second DVD in this two-set box which is the away victory v Liverpool which alone is worth the money.

Nevertheless, for nostalgia this is a great addition to any budding Celtic supporter's chest of goodies.


'I don't believe 50,000 fans will travel to Seville. That is madness, an exaggeration. I think a fair number will be around 4,000. We are talking about a final being played on a Wednesday, a day when people normally work.'
Rafael Carmonna, security chief for the 2003 Uefa Cup final, estimated 70-80,000 Celtic supporters arrived
'The UEFA Cup is not just one notch up from what we're used to, we are talking about four or five notches.'
MON, 2003

"It is a steep learning curve, but this was a wonderful, wonderful experience."
Celtic boss Martin O'Neill

"I will probably get into trouble for this, but it was poor sportsmanship. The rolling over, the time wasting. But they have beaten us, well done to them and it's up to us to learn from this. "It is a steep learning curve, but this was a wonderful, wonderful experience. The players put everything into it and the fans have been fantastic. We came roaring back every time they scored a goal and, if when we had 11 against 11 in extra time, I think we were the more mentally strong, but it was not to be with Bobo getting sent off. It was a massive blow." Martin O'Neil after the match

Porto coach Jose Mourinho hit back at any suggestion of underhand tactics: "I'd prefer to ask whether the behaviour of the Celtic players was normal in your country. What Balde did to Deco in front of me could have ended his career. The referee didn't affect the result, in that there were no doubtful decisions, but I think Balde could have had a direct red for his foul and Thompson could also have seen a second yellow card on two occasions. The referee wanted to end the game with 11 against 11 and I think maybe he was a bit afraid to send anyone off. There was a lot of commitment in Celtic's game, commitment, toughness and aggression. I'm tempted to use another word - but I won't. We have given a great example to the world and those who love football and we have also made history by taking the Uefa Cup to Portugal for the first time ever."Porto coach Jose Mourinho after the match (talking bollocks)

'I thought they [Porto] were great and deserved everything they got.'
Paul Lambert on Porto, 2003
"You should feel proud to have fans such as these in Glasgow who give their city and country a good name."
Alfredo Sanchez Monteseirin mayor of Seville

O’Neill had a taste of jousting with Mourinho when his Celtic team lost 3-2 to Porto in a compelling UEFA Cup final in 2003. There was no love lost. “I felt that every professional trick in the book was used and Porto gave us a lesson in it, but it wasn’t the way that I would have wanted our players to behave.”
Martin O'Neil July 2007
William Gaillard (UEFA's director of communications and public affairs) speaking after the European Cup final between Liverpool and AC Milan in 2007, was asked about what is going to be done in the future when another British club gets into the final and there is the same problems of fan behaviou/troubles getting into the ground. His answer?"......well, Celtic fans a couple of years ago went to Seville in the UEFA Cup Final and took over 3 times the amount of fans there. There was not one bit of trouble as all the fans that had no tickets stayed in the square and had a big party. Every team should follow Celtic's fan behaviour and that mentality."
William Gaillard, UEFA's director of communications and public affairs, 24/05/07 Sky Sports News "Speaking of Porto; you lifted the UEFA Cup with them in 2003, looking back at that thrilling game what are your memories a few years on?"
Mourinho: "The Champions League is the Champions League, it means much more than UEFA Cup and probably winning it was the best day of my football career. But as a football game I must say that Celtic-Porto in Seville was the most exciting football game I have ever been in. An unbelievable game. I saw Vitor Baía say the same to Portuguese TV after the last game of his career. He said it was the most emotional game of his career, it is the same for me. Every time I see [former Celtic manager] Martin O'Neill I remember I was the lucky one that day. An incredible match."
Jose Mourinho (Porto Manager on that night, talking in about the Seville game, Sep 07)

"When I was at Porto my team also played in the UEFA Cup final against a Scottish side - but it was Celtic. I've never seen such emotional people. It was unbelievable!"
Jose Mourinho (ex-Porto Manager) looking back on that game (May 2008)

Porto 2-3
UEFA Cup Final 2003 - The Celtic Wiki