14 Jan ‘Current Celtic side under more pressure than we were’ – 1998 hero Brattbakk
Harald Brattbakk felt the heat to stop Rangers winning ’10 in a row’ – but insists it is nothing compared to the pressure the current Celtic crop face as they chase down a decade of title dominance.
There were times during the Norwegian striker’s three-year stay in Glasgow when the weight of the Hoops jersey looked too heavy for the once-prolific ex-Rosenborg hitman.
But it was his goal against St Johnstone on the final day of the 1997-98 season which finally ended Rangers’ hunt for 10 straight titles.
It was a moment which secured his place in the Parkhead history books – yet Brattbakk admits he initially struggled to realise what the fuss was about.
A crash course from the long-suffering Celts who had had to endure beating after beating from Walter Smith’s star-studded Ibrox squad during the 1990s eventually saw the penny drop.
Yet the 48-year-old still thinks the strain his side felt in the nervy final days as they looked to clinch the club’s first championship in a generation does not measure up to the pressure on Neil Lennon’s men as they hunt the mythical benchmark.
Speaking as he promoted Premier Sport’s coverage of Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash with Partick Thistle, he said: “The last two weeks before the last game of the season, I realised this was really, really big.
“But before that, I didn’t really take the pressure in too much. The local guys were thinking about that more than me. I was a foreigner and didn’t really know Celtic’s history that well. I didn’t really know how big the club was.
“I had to be told by everyone all the time that this was really what mattered that year.
“Is the pressure on the current team not to let the 10 slip even greater than what we faced? Definitely.
“I think the pressure of winning 10 in a row is bigger than stopping it. When you have to win 10 titles, you have to be good every season. If you have to stop it you only have to be good for one.
“So the pressure is on but Celtic have been winning for so long and have experience.
“All of a sudden Rangers are coming and are only two points behind with an extra game. There are a lot of points to play for so it will be a really exciting run-in.”
Brattbakk may not have realised just how important ending Rangers’ run of title success was at the time, but he has been given regular reminders ever since.
“Winning the title with Celtic was the most important thing for me,” he explained. “But for the rest of the green part of the city it was about stopping 10 in a row.
“I’m still baffled by how big it was to stop 10 in a row. But then when you know the rivalry in Glasgow, it’s obvious Celtic stopping it is a huge part of the club’s history.
“For me to be part of that day, playing and scoring, was enormous.
“Everywhere I go I meet Celtic supporters – and it’s literally everywhere – that is what they mention.
“I joined in the December and was thrown straight into the title race. By May we were champions. It all happened so quick but it still is my best footballing memory.”