Former Dunfermline defender Willie Callaghan admits memories of the Pars’ memorable European fightback came flooding back after watching Barcelona eclipse their record with an extraordinary Champions League recovery.
Just like the Fife club’s deficit in 1962, Barcelona were trailing French team PSG 4-0 from the first leg of the last-16 tie but the Catalan giants produced a stunning fightback to progress following Wednesday’s 6-1 victory at the Nou Camp.
Callaghan was part of a Dunfermline side that are the only other team to stage such a feat in Europe, although the Fife club’s Fairs Cup run ultimately came to an agonising end.
After being beaten 4-0 away to Valencia, Dunfermline, roared on by legendary manager Jock Stein in the dugout, won the return fixture at East End Park 6-2. But with no away goals rule, the Pars were defeated in a play-off.
Recalling a career highlight against Valencia, Callaghan said: “Watching the Barcelona game the other night, I said: ‘That was us – we did that’, but it was our luck we didn’t get through.
“That Barcelona game was just magic and I never thought I would get to see anything like that.
“One of the things a lot of people forget about is how good we actually did in Europe, it takes times like this to mention, ‘excuse me a minute, Dunfermline did that’.
“A lot of people would say, ‘when the hell did they do that?’ Sometimes we didn’t get enough credit.
“Now people realise how big that result was.”
Staring Fairs Cup elimination in the face following a disastrous first-leg, Callaghan recalled how Stein’s man-management ability galvanised the players.
He added: “Big Jock had us built up for the return game right after we came into the dressing room after the first-leg.
“He told us what we were going to do, and I couldn’t believe it. I was just a kid and I was sitting alongside guys like Willie Cunningham.
“It was unbelievable, at times you can’t find the right words for it.
“The first-leg was one of the craziest games I’ve played in.
“I was running back and forward and I hardly touched the ball.
“You’re thinking, ‘what’s going on here?’ I was a wee laddie coming into the first team and I was absolutely lost, but big Jock just said, ‘get the finger out’. That was his attitude.
“Coming off the park, oh my god it was a disaster. But after five minutes in the dressing room, the result was forgotten about and he had already started on us about what we were going to do in the next game.
“That was just the type of man he was. We were just a bunch of guys that listened and respected him.”