Celtic v Porto, May 21st, Seville. It’s a date that lives in Bhoys infamy.
Yes, the run to the final was magnificent. As a game, it tore at our heartstrings, whether you were in the sun with thousands of others, or biting your nails at home.
Larsson’s magnificent headers took the game into extra time, but the heat, Baldé’s sending off and Mourinho’s men’s antics made it a torrid night for the thousands of Celtic supporters inside and outside the stadium. We haven’t reached a European Final since, and there’s still an element of “what if” about that famous night.
What if, for example, it’d been a bit colder?
Porto hero Ricardo Costa suggests it was the climate that swung the match in the side’s favour. In an interview with TVI24, Costa relived that night in 2003. Costa came on as an early substitute for Costinha, after the midfielder was forced off by an injury.
Costa said TVI24:
“It was 42 degrees. Our president had a break and he felt bad about it. And even we players had some concentration issues because it was physically very demanding to play 120 minutes under those conditions.
“In fact, Celtic ‘died’ in extra time and in the transition we were lethal. We scored, they drew. Until we [went] into extra time with that feeling of ‘it has to be now’, [then we went up] 3-2 with five minutes to go.
“When we all fell there on the pitch to celebrate, we thought: ‘No one else will ever take this away from us’.”
If only it’d been a year later, if Ricardo Costa is right about Celtic in Seville
Consider this; the 2004 UEFA Cup Final was held in Gothenburg. According to a quick Google search, the average high temperature in May is just 17 degrees.
Certainly, the Celtic players could’ve handled that.
But there were hot nights on the run to Seville. The conditions against Celta Vigo and Boavista were surely relatively comparable. Having to play 120 minutes in the blaring heat of Andalusia with thousands of people anxiously watching doesn’t sound like the easiest task, though.
Sometimes, it just isn’t meant to be. Sadly, that was the case in Seville.
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