On this day in 1995, Celtic travelled to Malaga in Spain for a friendly against Real Madrid.
The side at that period was under the leadership of Tommy Burns and was having an indifferent time in the league campaign, with a record for that season of P26, W6, D16 and L4. So, in some ways, a trip to sunny Spain in February was just what the doctor ordered; the players would benefit from a touch of the sun and a match against such well-respected opposition might just raise morale…and form?
The venue was the Estadio de La Rosaleda, a crowd of some 40,000 turned up for the contest and the Celtic side was Pat Bonner, Tom Boyd, Tosh McKinlay, Brian O’Neil, Tony Mowbray, Peter Grant, Charlie Nicholas, Paul McStay, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Andy Walker and Phil O’Donnell.
From the reports of the match, it seems that Real were always in control although Celtic were never out of it. Alfonso opened the scoring for the Spanish side in 18 minutes and only six minutes later Butragueno got another, this time from the penalty spot. And those two early counters wrapped up the game for Real. However, the whole trip may have a decided benefit for Celtic, as only three months later, they won the Scottish Cup, beating Airdrie by a single goal at Hampden, the club’s first success in the competition for six years.
One part of Celtic’s pre-match warm-up that the crowd that night would not have witnessed was the ‘Huddle’. The first time this took place was still nearly five months away, just before the friendly match against Kickers Emden in the German town of Jheringsfehn on July 23rd 1995.