Celtic are one of if not the most successful clubs in Scottish history.
The Glasgow side’s trophy cabinet boasts 43 Scottish League Championships, 35 Scottish Cups, 14 Scottish League Cups and a solitary European Cup since its foundation in 1887, and look certain to add to that tally this season.
In May 1888 Celtic played their first ever game as a club, starting what would turn out to be one of the most fiercely contested rivalries in world football with a 5-2 friendly win against Rangers.
And just three four years later The Bhoys christened their trophy room by claiming the Scottish Cup, whilst also claiming the league title the following season.
From the turn of the century Celtic dominated Scottish football, winning the league six times in a row from 1905-1910, as well as claiming back to back Scottish Cup titles in 07 and 08, the first time they had won the double.
This formidable form continued into World War 1, where the Glasgow club won four straight league titles, in a run that included a 62-game unbeaten streak.
In 1945 former player and captain Jimmy McGrory took charge, winning just five trophies in his 20 year reign as manager.
But in 1965 another former player in the shape of Jock Stein took charge and led Celtic through its most prosperous era. Stein guided Celtic to a world record number of consecutive League Championship wins, claiming the title every year from 1966 to 1974, a record that remained intact for 25 years.
And in just his second season in charge, Steins’ Celtic achieved the pinnacle of its achievements by claiming every competition it entered. Winning the Scottish League, Scottish Cup and League Cup as well as the Glasgow Cup was matched only by becoming the first British team to win the European Cup.
On May 25th, 1967 Stein took a side that included the likes of Jimmy Johnstone, Bobby Lennox and Bobby Murdoch to Lisbon on night that changed the face of British football as The Bhoys defeated Inter Milan 2-1 at the Estadio Nacional Stadium.
That heroic side become known as the Lisbon Lions, with many of the squad being included in the annals of Celtics history as the best to ever play for the club.
Further domestic success followed in the intervening years, but Celtic hit financial difficulty in 1994 and faced a winding up as the club exceeded its £5 million overdraft. The Bank of Scotland called in the receivers on the 3rd of March and it was only because of one businessman that the Scottish giants survived.
Headstrong Fergus McCann, a Scottish born Canadian entrepreneur wrestled control of the club from the family dynasties that had overseen Celtic for more than a century, at what the media reported as being in the dying minutes of the clubs ailing existence.
He acquired a 51% controlling stake in the Celtic Football and Athletic Company Ltd, and acted as a guarantor for the club’s £7 million debt. McCann went on to inject additional finance into Celtic, as well as floating the club on the London Stock Exchange as a public limited company in order to raise capital to help negate his new ventures growing debts.
McCann was also the man that oversaw the extension of Celtic Park, turning the ancient ground that had been little updated since its creation in 1892 into a 60,832 all seater stadium: the 23rd largest in Europe and eighth largest in Britain.
And in 1998 Celtics financial nightmare was all but forgotten as they wrestled the Scottish Premier League back from rivals Rangers, who had claimed the title for the past eight seasons. This was also the first season of the reincarnated SPL, a competition in which Celtic would go on to win seven times, whilst never finishing outside the top two.
Entering the 21st century, Nottingham Forest legend Martin O’Neill took control at Celtic in 2000, and guided The Hoops to the treble in his first season in charge. He was only the second manager since Jock Stein to achieve the treble with Celtic, as he went on to claim the domestic league on two more occasions over the next four years.
O’Neill quit Scotland for Aston Villa in 2005 as Gordon Strachan took the reins, managing six trophies in four years before a fruitless year under the stewardship of Tony Mowbray. Then two years ago, current manager Neil Lennon took charge, finishing runners up to Rangers in his first term in charge, before clinching the title last time out.
Ever since the relegation of Rangers to the Scottish Third Division after going into administration this season, Celtic have turned into a force on the continent once again, as well as at home.
Without the worry of their greatest rivals catching them in the league, Neil Lennon has been able to focus on The Hoops Champions League campaign and at the time of writing need only a result in the last group game to reach the knock-out stages of the competition.
And it was in this year’s competition that Celtic Park saw arguably the clubs greatest result in its history. No one could have predicted that when Barcelona came to Glasgow a win was on the cards, despite nearly forcing a point in the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp the month before.
But an early headed goal from Kenyan star Victor Wanyama set Celtic Park alight as The Hoops took the lead for the second time against the Spanish giants in as many months.
A handful of world class saves from Frasier Forster and some heroic defending kept Celtic in the lead. Then on came striker Tony Watt, who at the age of just 18 and having cost just £80,000 from Airdrie United in the summer kept his cool to slot a second past Victor Valdes to all but seal the tie.
And despite a 90th minute goal from Lionel Messi, by the full time whilst Celtic fans were shedding tears of jubilation, including lifelong Bhoys fan Rod Stewart, who needed consoling by those sat around him.
That result means that if Neil Lennon can mastermind a draw against Spartak Moscow in the last group game, Celtic will be well on their way to possibly challenging for their first European honours since 1967.
The past few seasons have also seen Celtic well and truly conquer its financial footing, and in the year of Rangers demise it was announced that the club, under the financial management of Irish billionaire Dermot Desmond, had all but brought the clubs financial books back to break-even.
In 2011 it was confirmed that Desmond had helped the club reduce its debts £5 million to just £500,000 as Celtic was listed 37th in Brand Finances’ annual valuation of the world’s biggest football clubs in May 2012. Celtic’s brand was valued at £40.7 million, meaning it was the first time a Scottish club had been ranked in the top 50.
Had it not been for the financial constraints of the limited TV money currently in the SPL, Brand Finance predicted that Celtic would have entered the top 10 of the Premier Leagues richest clubs, due largely to an estimated fan base of nearly 10 million fans worldwide.
Desmond has also ploughed money into Celtics training grounds, modernizing its youth academies and scouting structure, bringing the ancient clubs facilities up to a modern day standard.
On top of a flourishing European Campaign and what is for the first time in decades a strong financial footing, Celtic currently sit top of the SPL and are still competing in both Scottish Cup competitions.
Ultimately, this season could turn out to be one of the most fruitful in Celtics recent history.