Tony Watt’s name will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of every Celtic supporter after the young striker came off the bench last night to score the winning goal for the Hoops in their famous 2-1 defeat of Barcelona.
The eighteen year old from Coatbridge in Scotland moved to Glasgow in January 2011 and although he lacks experience, Neil Lennon had complete faith in the striker’s ability.
“I had no hesitation in playing him, I just thought his lack of experience would have been too much to put him in the starting lineup, but everything we asked him to do, he did. He scored a brilliant goal and should have had a penalty and a sending-off when he got on [Javier] Mascherano’s wrong side. He is learning. He wrote himself into the history books of the club but he is 11 games into his career.”
Lennon neatly summed up the gulf between the two side and the magnitude of what his team achieved when he remarked: “ They will feel very unlucky to have lost – they hit the bar and the post – but the difference is Tito [Vilanova, Barça’s manager] can bring on Cesc Fábregas and David Villa as substitutes. I threw on Tony Watt, an 18-year-old kid who cost £50,000 from Airdrie.”
The enormity of what he had just managed had yet to be fully realised by the Scottish teenager in the immediate aftermath of the historic triumph.
“It’ll take a couple of hours to sink in. I just saw Victor Valdés, I thought to put it to the side of him and it might go in. It’s probably the best moment of my life – I’ll look back at it when I’m older and think: ‘We’ve just beaten Barcelona in the Champions League.’ There’s nothing better.”
Fraser Forster pulled of a string of magnificent saves, sometimes defying the laws of physics to deny some of the best footballers of all time and Lennon paid tribute to the former Newcastle keeper.
“When we scored first we knew we would need a bit of luck, and we got that. You need your goalkeeper to be fantastic to beat Barcelona,” said the former Hoops midfielder.
For his part Forster was calm in the aftermath of the win but even in the glow of victory he was dissatisfied with one aspect of his performance.
“I’m just delighted that we picked up the result that we wanted. We didn’t see it through in the Nou Camp but I’m delighted that we got the job done tonight. The last few minutes felt like an eternity. I was devastated that Messi scored but that’s why he’s the best player in the world. I’m delighted we could see it through this week and get the three points.”
He also said that the raucous atmosphere created by the crowd in Park Head contributed hugely to one of the greatest nights he has ever enjoyed on a football pitch.
“The noise was unbelievable. If I ever experience an atmosphere like that again in my career I’ll be delighted. We had 60,000 tremendous fans and they really were a 12th man for us.”