When Celtic conquered Rome: Lazio 1 Celtic 2 - UEFA Europa League 2019

Declan McConville recalls a memorable trip to Rome in November 2019....

This evening, Celtic return to the scene of their stunning 2-1 victory over Lazio in November 2019 which saw Neil Lennon's side secure a place in the last-32 of the UEFA Europa League.

Among the near 10,000-strong travelling supporters in attendance to bask in the glory at the Stadio Olimpico that night was Declan McConville, who recalls his memorable first visit to Rome...

"Rome is one of Europe's most iconic cities, so it was a place I desperately wanted to visit," he told GlasgowWorld. "And what better way to do it than going out to support your football club!

"We'd actually booked up to go to Rennes as well that season. The fact we'd beaten Lazio in dramatic fashion with a late goal by Chris Jullien at Celtic Park in the reverse fixture had generated that added bit of excitement.

"It was a good Lazio team, and naturally because Celtic had never played in Rome and everything the city is renowned for, that was the thinking behind us going to game.

"I enjoy going to places like Aberdeen, Dundee and Dingwall but European trips are particularly special. You can make it into a holiday, it's something different and you're facing some of the best teams on the continent. Celtic often go into these games as the underdog, which doesn't happen a lot in Scottish football.

"There's always expectation but it was just great to see Celtic competing at that level. We were in a really good position to finish top of the group at that stage having drawn with Rennes on Matchday 1 in France and beating both Cluj and Lazio at home, so we knew going over to Italy that we could potentially qualify for the knockout stages.

"It's a great city to explore, you've got the Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain - three of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world. I also remember the atmosphere being incredible at the Villa Borghese before we got on the bus to the stadium.

"My friend lost her ticket and the Italian authorities were quite strict that your ticket had to match the name on your passport. Out of pure luck, the taxi driver we had used earlier that day drove halfway across the city to hand it back to her.

"We got into the stadium quite early, it was a really nice arena to play football in. The pitch was immaculate and I don't think Lazio fans were that interested in their team at that point. For memory, a stand was partly closed for the game because of racist behaviour by their fans, so it wasn't their usual home crowd.

"We went 1-0 down in the first-half but then James Forrest's goal just before half-time was an absolute peach, he stuck it really well and right across the goalkeeper.

"I think some supporters were probably happy to take a draw at that stage but for large periods of the game, Celtic had played some really good football. When the ball fell to (Olivier) Ntcham in the 95th minute, I remember saying to a pal 'he's in here' and just when it looked like he'd lost control, he dinks the ball over the goalkeeper.

"It was then one of those strange moments when time seemed to stand still. Everybody held their breath and if you watch the clip back there's actually a big pause between the ball in the air to it hitting the back of the net to then absolute bedlam. Everyone was just in complete disbelief. Bodies were flying everywhere, I remember hitting the deck at one point during the celebrations. People were just going absolutely mental.

"We were kept in the stadium for about an hour after the full-time whistle and the place was absolutely bouncing. They played a montage of famous moments like the 1967 European Cup final on the big screen which everyone was glued to. The volume of support that was allowed in that night was pretty amazing. It's a trip that will stay in my memory forever."