LINCOLN Red Imps’ shock 1-0 win over Celtic sparked world-wide reaction, according to the Gibraltan side’s president Derek Alman.
The first leg of the Hoops’ Champions League second qualifying-round clash at the Victoria stadium on Tuesday night was manager Brendan Rodgers first as boss and it brought unexpected drama.
In searing heat and on a poor artificial surface, the Scottish champions were stunned by an early second-half goal from striker Lee Casciaro, which put the part-timers on the football map.
Alman told Press Association Sport: “This is historic for us, the combination of so many years of hard work behind the scenes and on the pitch.
“We have had an incredible reaction. We have had people calling us from New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, with a lot of people on the blue side of Glasgow congratulating us, so I can see that the rivalry between the two clubs (Rangers and Celtic) is very much alive.
“We are getting calls from newspapers in Spain and Italy, there is a huge media interest in the story, and that the players are semi-professionals, some of whom are police officers and custom officers.”
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths hit the bar twice as the Hoops tried in vain to get back on level terms but Alman, who doubles as the club’s chairman, claimed some ecclesial help may have played a part in their clean sheet.
“We could have scored a second, which just grazed the crossbar,” he said. “But obviously Celtic had their chances and they hit the bar as well.
“We had a Catholic priest with us, Father Paul Bear, a very special friend of the club, and he blessed the goal posts for us.
“He comes to our big matches and we always have a joke with him and say, ‘Father please bless the posts and the crossbar’. He jokes, ‘Okay I have placed a blessing on that goal.’
“And sometimes when we hit the post, we say, ‘You forgot to take the blessing away’.”
While revelling in his club’s finest hour, Alman is under no illusions as to how difficult the return game in Glasgow will be for Lincoln.
He said: “It is going to be a very hard match, 1-0 is a very slim lead and I am sure Celtic will go full guns blazing on their own pitch with the crowd behind them.
“It is going to be a struggle for us, but we hope to give them a game and they will have to run and work their butts off to beat us, but we never give up, we never give up on the game.”
Defender Erik Sviatchenko is confident that Celtic will redeem themselves in front of what is expected to be a big crowd at Parkhead.
He told BBC Scotland: “We will do our job at Celtic Park, we know that we’re the better team.
“It’s obvious that people are disappointed, we wanted to create a much better result and we did everything we could preparation-wise.
“It’s not about not being ready, it’s about small details.
“We are 100 per cent together with everything. You do everything in your power to win games and sometimes it doesn’t go your way.
“But that doesn’t conclude that it is embarrassing, it’s about going through and being professional about everything.
“We knew it would be a tough game, we never go into it thinking it is going to be easy.
“The second leg is at Celtic Park, it is our ground, it is our grass and we’ll do our job and go through.”