In the world of football, where rivalries ignite, dreams are shattered, and legends are born, the clash between Dutch champions Feyenoord and Scottish giants Celtic is more than just a match—it’s a reunion of history and a glimpse into the future. As these two football powerhouses meet again in the Champions League Group E showdown, let’s unravel the layers of their shared past and the intriguing stories that await on the pitch.
Wim Jansen: The Rotterdam Colossus
When the late Wim Jansen took the helm as Celtic’s manager, he embarked on a journey filled with nostalgia and ambition. What drew him to this role was the uncanny resemblance between Celtic and Feyenoord, the very club he had helped defeat Jock Stein’s dream of a second European Cup triumph 27 years prior.
Cast your minds back to 1967, when Celtic, fresh from their historic European Cup win in Lisbon, stood as favorites once again in the iconic San Siro stadium in Milan. The atmosphere was electric as the game unfolded. Tommy Gemmell’s spectacular opener sent hopes soaring for the Celtic faithful. But, in a twist of fate, Ernst Happel’s underdogs from Feyenoord clawed their way back to win 2-1.
Jimmy Johnstone and Bobby Lennox, the stars of Celtic, found themselves marked out of the game. Even the great Billy McNeill made a rare misjudgment, allowing the Dutch to secure the decisive goal in extra time. At the heart of this historic victory for Feyenoord was the diminutive figure of Wim Jansen.
Despite standing at just 5ft 5in, Jansen was a towering presence in the annals of Feyenoord’s history. He played more games for the club than anyone else, winning four Eredivisie titles and adding the UEFA Cup to his list of accolades. His impact on Celtic, though shorter in duration, was equally significant, as he secured the Scottish title in 1998, ending a decade-long drought and denying arch-rivals Rangers a historic 10th successive championship.
But Jansen’s influence didn’t end there. He made a pivotal decision to bring in a relatively unknown striker from Feyenoord, one Henrik Larsson. Little did anyone know that this move would etch Larsson’s name in footballing legend. The Swedish striker’s exploits at Celtic Park are now part of football folklore.
The Clash of Titans: Feyenoord vs. Celtic
Fast forward to the present, and these two clubs find themselves once again on a collision course, this time in the Champions League Group E. With the likes of last season’s Italian runners-up, Lazio, and three-time Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid in the mix, many believe that the head-to-head battles between Celtic and Feyenoord offer the best chance of securing crucial victories.
However, both teams are dealing with key absences. Feyenoord’s first-choice goalkeeper, Justin Bijlow, is sidelined with a wrist fracture until November, leaving them with a significant void to fill. Lutsharel Geertruida, a highly-rated right-back, is also doubtful, potentially impacting Feyenoord’s defensive stability.
On the attacking front, Santiago Gimenez, the Mexican goal-scoring machine, is suspended for the first two group matches. Gimenez’s remarkable goal-scoring record in recent seasons has been pivotal for Feyenoord. Additionally, new signing Ayase Ueda is likely to miss out due to injury, leaving questions about who will lead the line.
For Celtic, this match is an opportunity to break a streak of never winning their opening Champions League group match, especially since UEFA is set to revamp the competition from the next season onwards.
As Feyenoord returns to the group stage of this prestigious tournament after six years, they carry with them the spirit of 1970, when they conquered the football world. It’s a clash that promises drama, nostalgia, and a chance for new legends to emerge.
So, as the teams step onto the pitch at De Kuip, Rotterdam, remember the echoes of history and the legends that have graced these clubs. Whether you’re a Celtic fanatic or a Feyenoord faithful, this match is sure to be a rollercoaster of emotions, and it’s a story that football fans won’t want to miss.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Football Legends
Q: Who is Wim Jansen, and what role did he play in Celtic and Feyenoord’s history?
A: Wim Jansen was a football legend who managed Celtic and had a significant impact on both clubs. He helped Feyenoord defeat Celtic in a historic match and secured the Scottish title for Celtic in 1998. His decision to bring in Henrik Larsson from Feyenoord became iconic.
Q: What happened in the 1970 match between Celtic and Feyenoord?
A: In 1970, Celtic faced Feyenoord in the European Cup final. Celtic, the favorites, took the lead, but Feyenoord came back to win 2-1, with Wim Jansen playing a crucial role. This match is remembered for its drama and significance.
Q: What are the key absences and challenges facing both teams in the upcoming clash?
A: Both Feyenoord and Celtic have key players missing. Feyenoord’s first-choice goalkeeper, Justin Bijlow, is sidelined with an injury, and they also face uncertainties in defense and attack. Celtic is aiming to break a streak of not winning their opening Champions League group match.
Q: Why is the clash between Feyenoord and Celtic in the Champions League Group E significant?
A: This match is significant because it revisits a historic rivalry between two football giants. It’s a chance to relive past glories and witness the emergence of new legends. With other strong teams in the group, these head-to-head battles are crucial for both clubs’ chances of success.