The Bhoys from Seville

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Celtic fans at the Estadio Olímpico in Seville

The Bhoys from Seville is a nickname used to refer to Celtic F.C.'s team and fans during Celtic's 2002–03 UEFA Cup campaign, which culminated in their defeat in the final in Seville, Spain.[1][2][3][4] Over 80,000 Celtic fans travelled to support their team in the final.[5][6]

The name "The Bhoys from Seville" is a play on words from the book and film The Boys from Brazil, the nickname of Celtic F.C. (the Bhoys), and the location of the UEFA Cup final. As the first Scottish team for 16 years to reach a European final and the first Celtic team to reach a European final since the 1970 European Cup Final, the team was compared to Celtic's European Cup winning team in 1967, the Lisbon Lions.[1][7][8][9]


Celtic's participation in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup came as a result of defeat in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round to FC Basel (3–3 aggregate score with the Swiss team progressing to the group stage on away goals). During the 2003 UEFA Cup competition, goalkeeper Rab Douglas and defender Bobo Balde both featured in twelve matches, which led the team in that category. They both missed the 2nd leg of the first round against FK Sūduva. Douglas conceded twelve goals and had six clean sheets. Celtic outscored opponents 26 to 11 on their run to the final. Striker Henrik Larsson scored eleven goals, including a hat-trick in the first game against FK Sūduva.

The motto "V for Victory" was coined during the campaign as every team Celtic faced; FK Sūduva, Blackburn Rovers, Celta Vigo, VfB Stuttgart, Liverpool, and Boavista, each had V in their name, with the exception of the team Celtic played in the final, Porto, although it was highlighted that the game would be in Seville.[10][11][12]

In another reference to the letter V, for the days leading up to the game the Daily Record, a Scottish tabloid newspaper, sent an open topped double decker bus to Seville with the slogan "Here V Go" on the side of the bus.[13]

First round v FK Sūduva[edit]

The first game of the campaign was against Lithuanian team FK Sūduva. Sudūva stated that they could not send a scout to Glasgow to spy on Celtic to prepare for their match and had to watch videotapes of Celtic.[14]

Celtic all but won the tie in the first leg at home in Celtic Park on 14 August 2002 which they won 8–1. Henrik Larsson scored a hat-trick, while Stilian Petrov, Chris Sutton, Paul Lambert, Joos Valgaeren and John Hartson all netted a goal each.[15] Martin O'Neill rested a number of players for the second leg, with first-team regulars such as Larsson, Sutton, Lambert, Valgaeren, Petrov and Neil Lennon all being left in Glasgow.[16] Celtic won the second leg 2–0 and went through to the second round on an aggregate of 10–1.

Second round v Blackburn Rovers[edit]

The next round, however, caught media and football fans attention when Celtic were paired with Blackburn Rovers.[17] The English side were enjoying a good season and eventually finished sixth in the Premiership.[18] Their squad boasted former Man Utd strikers Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole as well as rising star David Thompson and Irish winger Damien Duff who had impressed in the recent World Cup. Of obvious note though was the fact that they were managed by former Rangers player-manager Graeme Souness[19] The tie was dubbed the Battle of Britain.

Celtic were poor in the first leg at Parkhead, and were outplayed by their English opponents for long spells of the game. Nevertheless, a Henrik Larsson goal 5 minutes from full-time secured a crucial 1-0 win on the night and a narrow lead to take down to Ewood Park.[20]

In the build-up to the return match, Blackburn captain Gary Flitcroft made public that Souness had commented in the dressing room after the first game that Blackburn should have won the game and that it was like watching "men against boys"[21] Flitcroft also added his own opinion that, regarding Celtic, "there wasn't one of their players that impressed me on that showing."[22] In a press conference the day before the second game, Souness stated that if Celtic scored one goal then Blackburn would score three.[23]

In the second leg, Celtic showed much more composure and scored after 14 minutes through Larsson. Celtic were now 2-0 ahead on aggregate and controlled the game after that to the joy of their 7,500 travelling fans.[23][24][25] Former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton scored another goal for Celtic after 68 minutes and the match ran out with Celtic winning 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate.[26]

Third round v Celta Vigo[edit]

Celtic's third round UEFA cup opponents were Celta Vigo. In a first-leg overshadowed by eccentric referring, Henrik Larsson scored the only goal of the game in Glasgow to give Celtic a slender 1-0 advantage to take to Spain.[27] Martin O'Neill received a two-game touchline ban after he was sent from the home dugout during the game,[28] but this was later reduced to a one match ban after an appeal.[29]

The return match saw Jesuli level the tie on aggregate after 24 minutes. Celtic rallied, and on 37 minutes John Hartson used his body strength to force his way into the Spanish penalty box and score with a powerful shot. Crucially, due to the away goals rule, Celta Viga now had to score twice to avoid losing the tie. Benni McCarthy scored early in the second half for Celta Vigo but, despite a glaring miss from Jesuli near the end, Celtic held on to win the tie on away goals. The 1-2 loss on the night was the first of two defeats for Celtic on the way to the final.

This was the first time ever that Celtic had knocked out a Spanish club in European competition, and also the first time in 23 years that Celtic had remained in European competition beyond Christmas.[30]

Fourth round v VfB Stuttgart[edit]

The opponent for Celtic in the fourth round was German Bundesliga team VfB Stuttgart. Celtic won the first leg at Parkhead, coming from a goal down after Kevin Kurányi scored in the 27th minute, but were 2-1 up at half-time after goals from Paul Lambert and Shaun Maloney. A Stilyan Petrov goal in the second half clinched a 3-1 win.[31]

In the second leg, goals from Alan Thompson and Chris Sutton put Celtic 2-0 up after the first 14 minutes, with Stuttgart now requiring to score 5 goals to salvage the tie. A comeback by the Bundesliga club saw them win 3-2 on the night, but Celtic won 5–4 on aggregate.[32]

Quarter-final v Liverpool[edit]

The quarter-finals saw another English Premiership opponent for Celtic, this time Liverpool. Liverpool were competing in the UEFA Cup having finished third in Group B of the Champions League which also featured Celtic's conquerors in the qualifying round FC Basel, who finished second.

The first leg took place at Celtic Park on 13 March 2003. This clash was again billed as the Battle of Britain. The first leg ended 1-1 with Larsson opening the scoring for Celtic in the first minute. However Emile Heskey equalised for Liverpool in the first half, with the away goal giving Liverpool the advantage going in to their home tie at Anfield.[33] Liverpool player El Hadji Diouf spat at a Celtic supporter, and was later fined £5,000 at Glasgow's Sheriff Court for the incident.[34]

The return match at Anfield took place the following week. Celtic won 2-0, with the goals coming from an Alan Thompson free kick and a long-range strike from John Hartson.[35]

Semi-final v Boavista[edit]

Celtic's first European semi-final since the early 1970s saw them paired against Portuguese side, Boavista. As with all the previous rounds, Celtic had the advantage of playing the first leg of the tie at Celtic Park.

In the first leg Celtic went a goal down through an own goal from Joos Valgaeren in the 48th minute. Larsson equalised seconds later, but then missed a 75th minute penalty.[36] The 1-1 draw was Martin O'Neill's 50th unbeaten match at Celtic Park, a record of results that stretched back to Ajax in August 2001. 60,000 fans attended that match at Celtic Park.[37]

In a torturous return leg, Celtic toiled to break down a dour Boavista side who knew that a scoreless draw was all the Portuguese side required to reach the final. However an opportunistic strike by Larsson in the 80th minute won the match and the tie for Celtic, meaning Celtic would go through to the UEFA Cup Final, preventing an all-Portugal, and all-Oporto, final.[38]

Celtic fans and Seville[edit]

Tickets for the match had been selling for £500 in the lead up to the game and Celtic fans were warned to avoid the estimated 700 fake tickets that were circulating before the game.[39][40]

There was a scramble to arrange travel to Spain for what was described by a member of the Madrid Celtic Supporters Club as "one of the biggest events in sporting history"[41] and Celtic fans travelled by plane, car, bus, train and ferry in order to get to Seville on time.[40]

Around 80,000 Celtic supporters travelled to watch the club compete in the final at the Estadio Olímpico in Seville in southern Spain.[42][43]

The Celtic players train at the stadium before the final

Tens of thousands of Celtic fans partied in Seville during the days leading up to the match. Many of the supporters congregated in the Cathedral area of the city.

The final vs. F.C. Porto[edit]

Main article: 2003 UEFA Cup Final

Celtic lost the final match 3–2 to Porto after Porto became the first team to win a trophy on the silver goal rule to claim their first UEFA Cup. The bad weather meant that the game was played at a relatively slow pace which seemed to favour Porto, and led to a number of rash challenges from Celtic, one of which led to Joos Valgaeren getting a yellow card on 8 minutes. After this it was very much a stoic affair, until 32 minutes into the first half when Capucho played in Deco, but he could do no more than fire his shot straight at Robert Douglas. Straight after this attack Celtic broke on the counter with Henrik Larsson putting Didier Agathe through on the right but his cross was too high for Chris Sutton. Larsson had a chance to make it 1–0 on 35 minutes, but he was unable to get enough contact on the ball. Porto came close on 41 minutes when Deco moved past Bobo Baldé to go one on one with Robert Douglas, who saved Deco's shot with his legs. Porto finally found a way through on 45 minutes when, after some great work from Deco, Derlei followed up Dmitri Alenichev's shot which was saved by Robert Douglas, to give Porto a 1–0 lead on the stroke of half time and his 11th goal of the competition.

Porto's lead did not last long after the restart as Celtic equalised when Henrik Larsson met Didier Agathe's cross to send a looping header in over the helpless Vítor Baía to get his tenth goal of the tournament and his 200th Celtic goal. However within 5 minutes it was 2–1 when Deco's through ball found Dmitri Alenichev who scored. Just 3 minutes later Celtic equalised once again through Henrik Larsson when he headed in Alan Thompson's corner. After this the game stagnated until a couple of minutes from time when Jackie McNamara's errant pass found Dmitri Alenichev, however he shot over.

Normal time ended with the game at 2–2, the ensuing periods of extra time saw cagey football from both sides and Celtic were down to ten men when Bobo Balde was dismissed on 95 minutes after his second yellow card. On 112 minutes Derlei reacted quickest to a Robert Douglas block and rounded McNamara to make it 3–2. Porto managed to hang on even after having Nuno Valente sent off, thus ensuring that Porto had ended their 16 year wait between European trophies.[44][45]

After the match Henrik Larsson said in an interview that he was disappointed to have scored two goals in the final and still come away with a runners up medal. He was named man of the match.

The Porto manager, José Mourinho led his team to the Champions League title the following year, before moving to Chelsea.

The team for the final[edit]

Celtic do their customary huddle before the final
GK 20 Scotland Robert Douglas
RWB 17 France Didier Agathe
CB 5 Belgium Joos Valgaeren Booked 8' Substituted off 64'
CB 6 Guinea Bobo Baldé Yellow cardYellow cardRed card 96'
CB 35 Sweden Johan Mjällby
LWB 8 England Alan Thompson
CM 14 Scotland Paul Lambert (c) Substituted off 76'
CM 18 Northern Ireland Neil Lennon Booked 59'
CM 19 Bulgaria Stiliyan Petrov Booked 102' Substituted off 105'
CF 9 England Chris Sutton
CF 7 Sweden Henrik Larsson
GK 21 Sweden Magnus Hedman
DF 4 Scotland Jackie McNamara Substituted in 76'
DF 16 Denmark Ulrik Laursen Substituted in 64'
MF 3 Guinea Mohammed Sylla
MF 39 Scotland Jamie Smith
FW 12 Spain David Fernández
FW 29 Scotland Shaun Maloney Substituted in 105'
Northern Ireland Martin O'Neill

Match facts[edit]

Scotland Celtic Fact Portugal Porto
3 Efforts On Target 11
33 Fouls 24
5 Corners 5
4 Off-Side 4
4 (Valgaeren, Lennon, Petrov, Balde) Yellow Card 4 (Derlei, Alenichev, Ferreira, Valente)
1 (Balde) Red Card 1 (Valente)

Viewing figures[edit]

The viewing figures for the cup final were as followed:

  • Match average - 8.3 million, 34.8% audience share
  • Programme average - 7.8 million, 33.6% audience share
  • Viewing peaked at 10 million for the quarter-hour 10.00-10.15pm

BBC Head of Football, Niall Sloane said: "We're delighted that so many people tuned in to follow a British team's progress in the final. We're only sorry that Celtic didn't win."[46]

Celtic fans win awards[edit]

Approximately 80,000 Celtic supporters, the largest travelling support in history at that time,[47] made the journey to Seville for this game. The exemplary conduct of the majority of Celtic supporters received widespread praise from the people of Seville (there was only one Celtic fan, Andrew Hollinger arrested) and despite this, the fans were awarded prestigious Fair Play Awards from both FIFA and UEFA "for their extraordinarily loyal and sporting behaviour".[48][49] FIFA president Sepp Blatter also stated that he believed Celtic fans were the greatest fans in the world when he presented the FIFA Fair Play award at Celtic Park.

Sevilla fans travelling to the 2007 UEFA Cup in Glasgow noted that the visiting Celtic fans left them with a "great impression" of Glasgow.[50]

Preceded by
Football communities of Japan and Korea Republic
FIFA Fair Play Award Winners
Succeeded by
Confederação Brasileira de Futebol

Legacy of the Bhoys from Seville[edit]

The support of the Celtic supporters that the teams performance during the campaign provided the inspiration for a number of books, television programmes and DVDs. This included a book called Over and Over which documented the experience of the travelling fans, the official video and DVD produced by the club was entitled The Road to Seville with the DVD edition including a bonus disc featuring the full away match with Liverpool at Anfield.[51] and a television programme and subsequent DVD produced by STV took its name from the team and was called The Bhoys from Seville.

The Bhoys from Seville DVD focused on the fans and their endeavours to get to Spain and see the final. The DVD also contained broadcasts from Scottish news programmes from Seville and a tribute piece to the Lisbon Lions.[4][52]

Campaign results[edit]

2002–03 UEFA Cup
Date Venue Opponents Score Round Celtic scorers
19 September 2002 Celtic Park, Glasgow (H) Lithuania FK Sūduva 8–1 First round, First leg Larsson (3), Petrov, Sutton, Lambert, Valgaeren, Hartson
3 October 2002 Sūduva Stadium, Marijampolė (A) 0–2 First round, Second leg Fernández, Thompson
31 October 2002 Celtic Park, Glasgow (H) England Blackburn Rovers 1–0 Second round, First leg Larsson
14 November 2002 Ewood Park, Blackburn (A) 0–2 Second round, Second leg Larsson, Sutton
28 November 2002 Celtic Park, Glasgow (H) Spain Celta Vigo 1–0 Third round, First leg Larsson
12 December 2002 Estadio Balaídos, Vigo (A) 2–1 Third round, Second leg Hartson
20 February 2003 Celtic Park, Glasgow (H) Germany VfB Stuttgart 3–1 Fourth round, First leg Lambert, Maloney, Petrov
27 February 2003 Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion, Stuttgart (A) 3–2 Fourth round, Second leg Thompson, Sutton
13 March 2003 Celtic Park, Glasgow (H) England Liverpool 1–1 Quarter-final, First leg Larsson
20 March 2003 Anfield, Liverpool (A) 0–2 Quarter-final, Second leg Thompson, Hartson
10 April 2003 Celtic Park, Glasgow (H) Portugal Boavista 1–1 Semi-final, First leg Larsson
24 April 2003 Estádio do Bessa, Porto (A) 0–1 Semi-final, Second leg Larsson
21 May 2003 Estadio Olímpico de Sevilla, Seville (N) Portugal Porto 2–3 Final Larsson (2)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b PETER JARDINE. "O'Neill scents Catalan spirit The dream draw sends Parkhead boss on a journey down memory lane - but the toughest test yet awaits his Bhoys from Seville". Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  2. ^ Thomas Jordan. "What happened to the Bhoys from Seville?". Evening Times. Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  3. ^ Michael Grant. "You'll Never Walk Alone; Seville The Aftermath". The Sunday Herald. Retrieved 7 June 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Scottish TV - Review of 2003". Scottish Television. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  5. ^ "Celtic, Porto make overdue return to spotlight". Sports Illustrated Media. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  6. ^ Chick Young (23 May 2003). "Celtic did Scotland proud". BBC Sport Media. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  7. ^ JOE McHUGH (27 April 2003). "ROAR LIKE THE LIONS AND WE CAN MAKE HISTORY". The Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  8. ^ Magnus Linklater (22 May 2003). "If myth is an ancient tale of gods and heroes, then Celtic's Lisbon Lions are immortal". The Times (London). Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  9. ^ PAUL FORSYTH. "Hartson lion in wait". Scotland on Sunday Media. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  10. ^ JON WEST. "Douglas: It's V for victory Keeper's Seville superstition". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  11. ^ Chick Young (23 March 2003). "O'Neill the miracle worker". BBC News. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  12. ^ Roddy Forsyth. "European V-sign may be lucky omen for Celtic". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  13. ^ "In pictures: Celtic fans partying in Seville in 2003". Daily Record. 21 May 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Scottish trip too much for FK Suduva". Radio Telefís Éireann. Retrieved 12 June 2007. [dead link]
  15. ^ Rob Wright. "Celtic hammer Lithuanian side". Radio Telefís Éireann. Retrieved 12 June 2007. [dead link]
  16. ^ Amanda Fennelly. "O'Neill rests his big stars". Radio Telefís Éireann. Retrieved 12 June 2007. [dead link]
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Davies, Christopher (9 October 2002). "Souness prepares for Scottish reunion". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  20. ^ Self, Janine. The Sun (London) |url= missing title (help). 
  21. ^ Forsyth, Roddy (14 November 2002). "Irish argue Celtic's case". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  22. ^ King, Iain. The Sun (London) |url= missing title (help). 
  23. ^ a b "If Celtic score one, we'll score three". The Scotsman. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  24. ^ Greg McKevitt. "Celtic ready to take on Europe - Sutton". Radio Telefís Éireann. Retrieved 12 June 2007. [dead link]
  25. ^ Shaw, Phil (9 October 2002). "Celtic and Blackburn relish Uefa Cup showdown". The Independent (London). Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  26. ^ Taylor, Daniel (2 December 2003). "Celtic strike a blow for Scotland". The Guardian (London). 
  27. ^ Clark, Graham (28 November 2002). "Larsson goal gives Celtic a head start". The Guardian (London). 
  28. ^
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  30. ^ Roberts, Chris (12 December 2002). "Hartson hammer blow ends Spanish hoodoo". The Guardian (London). 
  31. ^ "Petrov sinks Stuttgart". BBC News. 21 February 2003. 
  32. ^ "Celtic kill off Stuttgart". BBC News. 27 February 2003. 
  33. ^ "Liverpool hold Celtic". BBC News. 13 March 2003. 
  34. ^ "Diouf will not face assault charges". Radio Telefís Éireann. Retrieved 12 June 2007. [dead link]
  35. ^ "Celtic brush aside Liverpool". BBC News. 20 March 2003. 
  36. ^ "Celtic held by Boavista". BBC News. 10 April 2003. 
  37. ^ 60,000 at Celtic Park
  38. ^ Brodkin, Jon (2 December 2003). "Larsson has the final word". The Guardian (London). 
  39. ^ "Seville warning for Celtic fans". The Scotsman. 14 May 2003. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  40. ^ a b DAN MCDOUGALL. "Carnival time as Bhoys invade Seville". The Scotsman. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ Andy Hall. "Celtic in Seville: A picture special". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  43. ^ Michael Grant (25 May 2003). "YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE; Seville The aftermath". The Sunday Herald. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  44. ^ "Match Report". ESPN. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  45. ^ "Fan Award". FIFA. Archived from the original on 11 April 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  46. ^ Celtic's UEFA Cup final encounter against Porto peaks at 10 million viewers BBC Press Office, 22 May 2003
  47. ^ Paul Kelbie A city divided: half in Glasgow, half in Seville for cup final The Independent, 22 May 2003
  48. ^ "Celtic fans get Fifa award". BBC News. 12 December 2003. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  49. ^ "UEFA FIFA Fair Play Award 2003 - Celebrating Celtic pride in the heart of Andalusia". FIFA. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  50. ^ 'Viva Espana' on Uefa Cup night BBC News, 16 May 2007
  51. ^ Manfred Lurker. "The Road to Seville; Celtic FC". Not The View. Retrieved 12 June 2007. 
  52. ^ Manfred Lurker. "The Bhoys From Seville; Scottish Television DVD". Not The View. Retrieved 12 June 2007.