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DAYS OF FUTURE PAST PART 1: WHEN CELTIC PLAYED PSG IN 1995

Patrice Loko opens the scoring for PSG at Celtic Park

CUP WINNER’S CUP 1995: SECOND ROUND FIRST LEG OCTOBER 19TH: PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 1 (Djorkaeff 76’) CELTIC O SECOND LEG NOVEMBER 2ND: CELTIC 0 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 3 (Loko 36’, 42’, Nouma 67’) PSG WIN 4-0 ON AGGREGATE

In 1995 Celtic were finally on the way back after years of under performing. We had booted out the old board and replaced them with Fergus McCann, won our first trophy in six years and moved into the new, modern Celtic Park. We were also back in Europe, in the Cup Winner’s Cup for the first time since 1985, and after defeating Dinamo Batumi 7-2 on aggregate the draw pitted Celtic against Paris Saint-Germain in the second round.

PSG had just reached the semi-final of the Champions League, with a team featuring the likes of David Ginola, George Weah and Valdo, and even those all those players had departed Celtic were under no illusions as to how difficult the game would be, as the PSG side that we would face included the likes of Patrice Loko, Rai, Youri Djorkaeff and even future Rangers (RIP) manager Paul Le Guen.

All those players started for PSG in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, which took place on October 19th 1995. Future Celt Stephane Mahe also started for the French side. The Celtic team included both Pierre Van Hooijdonk and Andy Thom up front, the likes of Paul McStay and John Collins in midfield, and Tom Boyd and John Hughes in defence.

Despite being the relatively poor relations Celtic weren’t overawed at all in Paris, and Pierre Van Hooijdonk missed an absolute sitter to give the Celts the lead, putting a free header wide of the post. He later claimed not to have seen the ball in the floodlights, but he really should have scored. The game’s only goal came in the 76th minute, Djorkaeff getting on the end of a Mahe cross to fire the ball past Marshall. The game ended 1-0 to PSG, but hopes were high ahead of the second leg that Celtic could pull off another famous European victory at Celtic Park.

The second leg, at Celtic Park on November 2nd, saw Celtic bring in Andy Walker as we played in a more attacking formation than in the first leg, and Walker came close to giving Celtic the lead with a header which Bernard Lama tipped over the bar. PSG gradually began to take control of the game though with the mercurial Patrice Loko running riot. He opened the scoring in the 36th minute, slotting home the rebound after Marshall could only parry Fournier’s shot. He scored both his and PSG’s second of the night seven minutes later, volleying home a Djorkaeff cross.

In the second-half Lama made a great save to stop Thom giving Celtic a foothold of sorts in the game, before Nouma finished off a chance laid on by Djorkaeff to make it 3-0 on the night, and 4-0 on aggregate.

The Celtic fans sportingly gave PSG an ovation after the game, and indeed they went on to win the Cup Winner’s Cup in 1995-96, Bruno N’Gotty scoring the only goal of the game as they defeated Rapid Vienna 1-0 in the final. The PSG team of 1995 may not have the World superstars that the current side has, but they were good enough to give Celtic a football lesson. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself this week.