International Break best ever 11 – Left Back
On Day Three,we take a look at the left back position. In my opinion,the stand-out is Tommy Gemmell. So good,in fact,that we had to wait about forty years for Izzy to come along before we had a reliable enough replacement for the big fella.
Jock Stein said he was the best left back in the world,and he would probably have been just as good at right back or centre half. He was certainly recognised internationally for his exploits,being mentioned regularly in polls of Europe’s best during his prime. He even famously appeared with Baddiel and Skinner to relive one of his famous right-footed “dunks”!
Tommy broke into the team in 1963,just before his 20th birthday. To become a first-choice at so early an age was unusual then,and he would remain so for the next eight years,playing almost 450 games for us and scoring 69 goals. He was a machine when it came to penalties,with 34/37 success rate.
The goalkeepers dived out of the way when Big Tam blootered the ball their way,and they were well advised to do so.
Jock arrived in 1965. He really pushed Tommy on,recognising the quality of the player. In our all-conquering 1966-67 season,Tommy played every minute of every game-as did John Clark. And famously,it was Tommy who really did for Inter in Lisbon,scoring the equaliser which frankly sealed their fate. He also scored in our losing final in Milan,but his fall-outs with Jock were becoming too frequent,and he was shown the door,leaving most reluctantly for Nottingham Forest in 1971.
He left with six League medals,three Scottish Cups and four League Cups. Oh,and that European Cup medal from Lisbon. He left with regrets,but with our best wishes. Little did we know that only two years later,he would be back-captaining Dundee to League Cup success against us!
A problem position for us since the days of Tommy,as I said. Honourable mentions must go to Jim Brogan-he’d be the first to admit that he wasn’t a left back,but he finally found a regular first team spot in that role. Mark Reid,much-maligned by many,but he was only a kid,and boy,could he take a penalty! Stephane Mahe for his part in stopping the ten,and of course our current options,Izzy and Kieran Tierney,who could be the best of them all. Start practicing the penalties,Kieran!
Saltires en Seville,,
Tommy Gemmell 434 games (1961-1971) x 69 goals!!!
What has not been said in praise of the Big Shot ? ( first football book I read without pictures and still have my late father’s copy)
Quite simply a giant of a player who had stamina and strength; flair and skill. Loved playing and had the ability to make every game centre around him & how he played. So involved. Memories are mainly from 69/70 – 71/72 seasons although I watched him live in ‘68 season and many times after that. I remember the craziness in the family home when he scored that goal in ‘67. Not remembering the actual goal. I remember clearly his other European Cup Final goal in Milan 1970 v Feyenoord. Bertie’s wee lay-off at free-kick. We knew it was going in right there. An absolutely cracking player and we will be blessed if Kieran can get within 10% of his achievements for Celtic.
Again I seen many that were given a shot or shunted into the position but no one that actually grabbed it and said this position is mine eff off everyone else . The names that were thrusted there , most because they could do it decent enough , are lengthy . Boyd , Laursen , Camara , Mulgrew and many more which I find strange as for a team that likes to attack surely the wing backs are more important than to just shunt somebody in there but apparently not .
No one until a certain one came along , and I think I can honestly say , he’s one of the most popular foreign characters among the support and dressing room that we have ever have .
PLease Gloria Gaynor the following ,,,
And so he’s back , from outer space , I just logged in one day to find you striding back into the place.
Wherent you the one who dazzled Scotland with your style , straight up that left wing , and cross thats usually wild !!!
Ill stop there , ahem . Yes folks , we thought we had seen our bhoy depart for good but look what the big spending board dragged in .
Izzy is one of us now , and if I see him in his favoured slot I am content with that . Yes KT is a cracker but hes not the bionic man and needed rest sometimes and having such and able deputy helps the decision to rest him sometimes hopefully .
Hes a wee cracker , zippy , all action , not dirty in any way , and seems to love it there if truth be told , well he wouldnt be back if he didnt right ?
And I dont know about you but remember he had the chance for the hattrick those years back when he was given the penalty and it was cruelly saved robbing him of his big moment ? My heart felt for him thats for sure and hopefully yours did too . Like I say hes an easy guy to like , its a cool quality .
He didnt cost a lot either and has been a steal in relative terms . Plus his ego was in check enough to become a number two which is kinda surprising as most pros in their 30’s just wanna play but I see it as a win win all around. I like to think he’s giving Kieran wee snippets of advice and will play a part in his development . Lets watch him while we can and just enjoy it .
So if forced to choose a left back I am happy with ,, gimme Izzy !