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Greatest European Nights

My greatest European night

Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away trip filled with adventure beyond his imagination

Barcelona 1-1 Celtic

24 November 2004

Cheekily meeting players in the stadium, having lunch with them at the airport and then getting lost in Paris – Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away day for the ages

This was my first Champions League game away from Celtic Park. I was ten years old, I went with my dad and everything about it was special. Celtic drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona wasn’t foreseen at the time. Not many teams go to the Camp Nou and get anything. That experience, that result, and it being my first trip meant I thought it would always be that glamorous. Turned out it wasn’t to be because there were many defeats that followed, so I’ve probably appreciated it even more over time. 

It was very loud – there was a lot of singing and plenty of older fans who had a few beers. I also remember that we were sitting at the very top. I’ve been back a few times since, but I always remember how tiny the players looked from up there the first time. 

Barcelona scored fairly early through Samuel Eto’o, and I felt like the floodgates had opened. But then John Hartson equalised for us before half-time, and though it might just have been offside, we were lucky. Maybe with VAR today that goal might not have stood. My dad made me get a picture with the scoreboard behind that said Barcelona 1-1 Celtic, just to show that we were drawing at one stage because he thought we might end up losing 5-1 or something. Then, at full time, it was total relief. Everyone was going crazy.

There’s quite a funny story after the game. My dad and I went round the stadium and met a member of the Scottish press, who gave me his accreditation pass as a souvenir. My dad put it on, and we went in through the main doors and managed to meet some of the Celtic players in the press area. They actually tried to show me downstairs to see Ronaldinho, but the security guards said, “Nope, not happening!” 

Barcelona 1-1 Celtic

24 November 2004

Cheekily meeting players in the stadium, having lunch with them at the airport and then getting lost in Paris – Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away day for the ages

This was my first Champions League game away from Celtic Park. I was ten years old, I went with my dad and everything about it was special. Celtic drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona wasn’t foreseen at the time. Not many teams go to the Camp Nou and get anything. That experience, that result, and it being my first trip meant I thought it would always be that glamorous. Turned out it wasn’t to be because there were many defeats that followed, so I’ve probably appreciated it even more over time. 

It was very loud – there was a lot of singing and plenty of older fans who had a few beers. I also remember that we were sitting at the very top. I’ve been back a few times since, but I always remember how tiny the players looked from up there the first time. 

Barcelona scored fairly early through Samuel Eto’o, and I felt like the floodgates had opened. But then John Hartson equalised for us before half-time, and though it might just have been offside, we were lucky. Maybe with VAR today that goal might not have stood. My dad made me get a picture with the scoreboard behind that said Barcelona 1-1 Celtic, just to show that we were drawing at one stage because he thought we might end up losing 5-1 or something. Then, at full time, it was total relief. Everyone was going crazy.

There’s quite a funny story after the game. My dad and I went round the stadium and met a member of the Scottish press, who gave me his accreditation pass as a souvenir. My dad put it on, and we went in through the main doors and managed to meet some of the Celtic players in the press area. They actually tried to show me downstairs to see Ronaldinho, but the security guards said, “Nope, not happening!” 

Read the full story
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We got a few pictures and left, but the next day we met the full Celtic team again at the airport. Martin O’Neill, manager at the time, asked who my favourite player was, and I said Aiden McGeady. He actually got McGeady to come over to buy me my lunch, which I ate with the players while my dad had a coffee with the manager and his staff before our flight to Paris, where we had a layover.  

We get to Paris and we’re not flying home till later that night. And, obviously, this is before mobile phones and credit cards, so my dad has only got some cash on him to get us through the day. Anyway, we come outside the airport to take the bus into the city and, as we get in, the driver asks for a ticket. Dad gets off the bus to buy the ticket at the machine while I stood on the bus. But the driver shuts the door and sets off.  

So, my dad is stranded at the airport, I’m on the bus, ten years old, crying, with no idea what was going on. Luckily, there were two English students on the bus who could speak French and they came forward and asked the driver if he could go back, but he was already on the motorway. Meanwhile, my dad has called a taxi and asked it to follow the bus. These two English girls stayed with me in Paris until my dad got in.

I had no money, no food and no way of getting in touch with him. Nowadays, he could just phone me and say I’ve gotten a taxi and I’m following you, but back then I was just stranded. So I was pretty much lost in Paris and we just stayed at the bus stop for half an hour till my dad appeared. But, the full day, we had no money for food or drink, just roaming around Paris waiting to get the bus to fly home. It was an absolute adventure and now I can look back on it and laugh.  

The whole experience, I think, brought my hopes up as a Celtic fan because I thought it was always going to be that good! Obviously, I’d had the experience of seeing us make the UEFA Cup final and then the quarter-finals too, and a draw against Barcelona away was my first Champions League away-game experience. But I’ve now been on 80-odd European trips as a Celtic fan and I’ve realised the wins are much harder to come by. I would say I got hooked very early, and it was like the first drink of alcohol you have as a teenager. Now I’ve lost jobs, girlfriends, loads of money, but Celtic has always been constant. 

Barcelona 1-1 Celtic

24 November 2004

Cheekily meeting players in the stadium, having lunch with them at the airport and then getting lost in Paris – Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away day for the ages

This was my first Champions League game away from Celtic Park. I was ten years old, I went with my dad and everything about it was special. Celtic drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona wasn’t foreseen at the time. Not many teams go to the Camp Nou and get anything. That experience, that result, and it being my first trip meant I thought it would always be that glamorous. Turned out it wasn’t to be because there were many defeats that followed, so I’ve probably appreciated it even more over time. 

It was very loud – there was a lot of singing and plenty of older fans who had a few beers. I also remember that we were sitting at the very top. I’ve been back a few times since, but I always remember how tiny the players looked from up there the first time. 

Barcelona scored fairly early through Samuel Eto’o, and I felt like the floodgates had opened. But then John Hartson equalised for us before half-time, and though it might just have been offside, we were lucky. Maybe with VAR today that goal might not have stood. My dad made me get a picture with the scoreboard behind that said Barcelona 1-1 Celtic, just to show that we were drawing at one stage because he thought we might end up losing 5-1 or something. Then, at full time, it was total relief. Everyone was going crazy.

There’s quite a funny story after the game. My dad and I went round the stadium and met a member of the Scottish press, who gave me his accreditation pass as a souvenir. My dad put it on, and we went in through the main doors and managed to meet some of the Celtic players in the press area. They actually tried to show me downstairs to see Ronaldinho, but the security guards said, “Nope, not happening!” 

My greatest European night
Greatest European Nights

My greatest European night

Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away trip filled with adventure beyond his imagination

Barcelona 1-1 Celtic

24 November 2004

Cheekily meeting players in the stadium, having lunch with them at the airport and then getting lost in Paris – Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away day for the ages

This was my first Champions League game away from Celtic Park. I was ten years old, I went with my dad and everything about it was special. Celtic drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona wasn’t foreseen at the time. Not many teams go to the Camp Nou and get anything. That experience, that result, and it being my first trip meant I thought it would always be that glamorous. Turned out it wasn’t to be because there were many defeats that followed, so I’ve probably appreciated it even more over time. 

It was very loud – there was a lot of singing and plenty of older fans who had a few beers. I also remember that we were sitting at the very top. I’ve been back a few times since, but I always remember how tiny the players looked from up there the first time. 

Barcelona scored fairly early through Samuel Eto’o, and I felt like the floodgates had opened. But then John Hartson equalised for us before half-time, and though it might just have been offside, we were lucky. Maybe with VAR today that goal might not have stood. My dad made me get a picture with the scoreboard behind that said Barcelona 1-1 Celtic, just to show that we were drawing at one stage because he thought we might end up losing 5-1 or something. Then, at full time, it was total relief. Everyone was going crazy.

There’s quite a funny story after the game. My dad and I went round the stadium and met a member of the Scottish press, who gave me his accreditation pass as a souvenir. My dad put it on, and we went in through the main doors and managed to meet some of the Celtic players in the press area. They actually tried to show me downstairs to see Ronaldinho, but the security guards said, “Nope, not happening!” 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Barcelona 1-1 Celtic

24 November 2004

Cheekily meeting players in the stadium, having lunch with them at the airport and then getting lost in Paris – Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away day for the ages

This was my first Champions League game away from Celtic Park. I was ten years old, I went with my dad and everything about it was special. Celtic drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona wasn’t foreseen at the time. Not many teams go to the Camp Nou and get anything. That experience, that result, and it being my first trip meant I thought it would always be that glamorous. Turned out it wasn’t to be because there were many defeats that followed, so I’ve probably appreciated it even more over time. 

It was very loud – there was a lot of singing and plenty of older fans who had a few beers. I also remember that we were sitting at the very top. I’ve been back a few times since, but I always remember how tiny the players looked from up there the first time. 

Barcelona scored fairly early through Samuel Eto’o, and I felt like the floodgates had opened. But then John Hartson equalised for us before half-time, and though it might just have been offside, we were lucky. Maybe with VAR today that goal might not have stood. My dad made me get a picture with the scoreboard behind that said Barcelona 1-1 Celtic, just to show that we were drawing at one stage because he thought we might end up losing 5-1 or something. Then, at full time, it was total relief. Everyone was going crazy.

There’s quite a funny story after the game. My dad and I went round the stadium and met a member of the Scottish press, who gave me his accreditation pass as a souvenir. My dad put it on, and we went in through the main doors and managed to meet some of the Celtic players in the press area. They actually tried to show me downstairs to see Ronaldinho, but the security guards said, “Nope, not happening!” 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

We got a few pictures and left, but the next day we met the full Celtic team again at the airport. Martin O’Neill, manager at the time, asked who my favourite player was, and I said Aiden McGeady. He actually got McGeady to come over to buy me my lunch, which I ate with the players while my dad had a coffee with the manager and his staff before our flight to Paris, where we had a layover.  

We get to Paris and we’re not flying home till later that night. And, obviously, this is before mobile phones and credit cards, so my dad has only got some cash on him to get us through the day. Anyway, we come outside the airport to take the bus into the city and, as we get in, the driver asks for a ticket. Dad gets off the bus to buy the ticket at the machine while I stood on the bus. But the driver shuts the door and sets off.  

So, my dad is stranded at the airport, I’m on the bus, ten years old, crying, with no idea what was going on. Luckily, there were two English students on the bus who could speak French and they came forward and asked the driver if he could go back, but he was already on the motorway. Meanwhile, my dad has called a taxi and asked it to follow the bus. These two English girls stayed with me in Paris until my dad got in.

I had no money, no food and no way of getting in touch with him. Nowadays, he could just phone me and say I’ve gotten a taxi and I’m following you, but back then I was just stranded. So I was pretty much lost in Paris and we just stayed at the bus stop for half an hour till my dad appeared. But, the full day, we had no money for food or drink, just roaming around Paris waiting to get the bus to fly home. It was an absolute adventure and now I can look back on it and laugh.  

The whole experience, I think, brought my hopes up as a Celtic fan because I thought it was always going to be that good! Obviously, I’d had the experience of seeing us make the UEFA Cup final and then the quarter-finals too, and a draw against Barcelona away was my first Champions League away-game experience. But I’ve now been on 80-odd European trips as a Celtic fan and I’ve realised the wins are much harder to come by. I would say I got hooked very early, and it was like the first drink of alcohol you have as a teenager. Now I’ve lost jobs, girlfriends, loads of money, but Celtic has always been constant. 

Barcelona 1-1 Celtic

24 November 2004

Cheekily meeting players in the stadium, having lunch with them at the airport and then getting lost in Paris – Celtic fan Ryan Stewart recounts an away day for the ages

This was my first Champions League game away from Celtic Park. I was ten years old, I went with my dad and everything about it was special. Celtic drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona wasn’t foreseen at the time. Not many teams go to the Camp Nou and get anything. That experience, that result, and it being my first trip meant I thought it would always be that glamorous. Turned out it wasn’t to be because there were many defeats that followed, so I’ve probably appreciated it even more over time. 

It was very loud – there was a lot of singing and plenty of older fans who had a few beers. I also remember that we were sitting at the very top. I’ve been back a few times since, but I always remember how tiny the players looked from up there the first time. 

Barcelona scored fairly early through Samuel Eto’o, and I felt like the floodgates had opened. But then John Hartson equalised for us before half-time, and though it might just have been offside, we were lucky. Maybe with VAR today that goal might not have stood. My dad made me get a picture with the scoreboard behind that said Barcelona 1-1 Celtic, just to show that we were drawing at one stage because he thought we might end up losing 5-1 or something. Then, at full time, it was total relief. Everyone was going crazy.

There’s quite a funny story after the game. My dad and I went round the stadium and met a member of the Scottish press, who gave me his accreditation pass as a souvenir. My dad put it on, and we went in through the main doors and managed to meet some of the Celtic players in the press area. They actually tried to show me downstairs to see Ronaldinho, but the security guards said, “Nope, not happening!” 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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