Neil Lennon’s Champions League credentials will help him end Hibs Euro woes

0
21


Hibs have a glorious past in continental competition but could give the Tories a run for their money when it comes to their recent record on Europe.

Boris Johnson and Co may have unravelled in the two years since the Brexit vote but around Leith they are nursing almost four decades of exits.

So Easter Road legend John Brownlie reckons it’s about time the punters weren’t left hanging like BoJo on a zipwire.

The former defender played at a time Hibs expected to be in Europe every season – and took progress for granted with a run to the Cup-Winners’ Cup quarters the peak in 1973.

John Brownlie knows a thing about success

Before then they were the first British side to compete in the new European Cup in 1955 – reaching the semis – and beat Barcelona en route to the last four of the 1961 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, taking Roma to a third game.

But with the New Firm’s dominance in the 1980s and a nasty habit of difficult draws, Hibs start their Europa League campaign tomorrow having won just two of 12 ties since going out to Strasbourg in 1978.

Brownlie, 66, said: “We used to love our European adventures and although we never managed to get all the way to a final we did tend to put together decent runs most seasons.

“It was a time when Scottish sides expected to be involved in the latter stages. There were some great memories.

Neil Lennon impressed in the Champions League with Celtic

“There was getting to the Cup-Winners’ Cup quarter-finals where we put Sporting Lisbon out along the way.

“We went to Albania on that run and that was a real eye-opener. It was behind the old Iron Curtain. The poverty was extreme – the dressing rooms didn’t even have any toilets.

“We got through though and we were involved in some great ties. We held the great Leeds team to 0-0 draws and only went out on penalties. We faced Juventus as well.

“The only time we went out in the first round was against Liverpool. We were 1-0 up at Easter Road and I missed a penalty in the last minute.

Easter Road has witnessed some tough Euro nights

“We went down 3-1 at Anfield to go out so I never forget that one. Eddie Turnbull was a shrewd manager. He was a great tactician but he would also try to gain an advantage – get us kicking down the slope in the second half of the second leg, things like that.

“We enjoyed a fair bit of success. The fans always loved European games at Easter Road but I can’t believe the record in the last few years. It’s incredible.

“I would love to see them make a decent fist of it this season. The supporters are long overdue a few trips.”

Neil Lennon’s side face Faroe Islanders NSI Runavik first in the opening round of qualifiers with Greek outfit Asteras Tripolis lying in wait.


But the going gets tough for another two rounds before the group stage beckons.

Brownlie said: “That’s the problem Scottish sides have these days – they are going up against teams they’d expect to beat but they’re not match fit and it’s easy to get caught cold.

“Neil won’t take the Faroes team for granted and I would fancy them to have enough to take care of the tie.

“Neil has shown he’s a shrewd manager in Europe. You look at what he did at Celtic, beating Barcelona and getting to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

“He was unlucky the season before last against Brondby.”

Brownlie has been impressed with Lennon’s recruitment at Easter Road but admits he has his work cut out this summer.

He said: “Dylan McGeouch is a big loss. It looks like John McGinn could be away as well.

“I hope he stays around for another few weeks and helps Hibs get through a few rounds in Europe. McGinn will be hard to replace but Neil will have the side in good shape going into the season.”



Read The Story Here

SHARE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here