CELTIC'S Lisbon Lions victory meant as much to Scotland's Irish Catholic community as the black power salutes of winning athletes did for African Americans, researchers claim.

The 1967 European Cup triumph made the Glasgow club the first UK side to take the trophy, and has gone down in Scottish sporting history.

Players like Jimmy Johnstone and Tommy Gemmell reached iconic status over their role in the success.

Now academics say the win was a "defining moment" for the Irish diaspora in Scotland.

In a paper for an international journal, Stirling University's Dr Joseph Bradley and Dr John Kelly of Edinburgh University argue the result has the same cultural resonance as the black power podium protest of US athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

The pair claim the 2-1 win over Inter Milan was “not merely the story of a great sporting accomplishment” but also a “landmark and iconic moment in the social and cultural history of a country and a people within that country”.

The researchers said: “The accomplishments and triumphs of these people in the sporting arena have historical, ethnic, socio-cultural, economic and political resonances as well too as having relevance to issues they and others within the communities they represented in sport faced with regards prejudice and discrimination.

“For Celtic and its supporters, 1967 has become a moment when the underdogs in Scottish society became the most successful underdogs on the field of play.”

Kelly commented: “Our study suggests the significance of the win reveals intersections of ethnicity, religion, nationalism, and the politics of ‘sectarianism’ in Scotland.

"During a period of discriminatory practices and attitudes towards Irish descended Catholics in Scotland, this iconic win for a Scottish based club born of Irish Catholics personified for this diaspora that – on one level, and at least for that moment in time – their day had arrived.”

Bradley said: “In 1967, Celtic became the first club outside of Portugal, Spain and Italy to win the European Cup. Although numerous football fans celebrated Celtic’s win in 1967 and people from non-Catholic and non-Irish backgrounds have long supported Celtic, the victory is totemic for the Catholic community of Irish immigrant descent in Scotland that has historically formed the core support of the club.

“We reveal that soccer remains a central component of group memory connecting the past, present and future – and suggest that Celtic’s win offered confidence and hope to a marginalised group within Scotland.”