FRANCE Football may only consider Jock Stein’s achievements worthy of 34th spot in the top 50 football managers of all time, but the footballing gods will forever hold Stein in the highest echelons.

Stein, surely, is worthy of, at least, a place in the top 10.

After guiding Celtic to victory over Inter Milan in the final of the 1967 European Cup, Stein became, as fellow Scot Bill Shankly - listed in 10th spot - remarked “immortal”.

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It wasn’t just that Celtic became the first British, indeed non-Latin, club to win the trophy.

It was the manner that Stein guided Celtic to winning European football’s most illustrious club competition.

In Stein’s own words, Celtic triumphed “playing football. Pure, beautiful, inventive football”.

France Football chose as their number one manager Rinus Michels, the Dutch master and Ajax icon who invented ‘Total Football’.

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There are more decorated and famous managers on the list than Michels, who won 12 club trophies with Ajax, Barcelona and Cologne during his managerial career and the 1988 European Championship as Dutch coach.

But more than silverware it was his philosophy of technically diverse and aware footballers playing a style and set of tactics with a focus on movement – men and the ball - that enthralled the world game. The basis of it lives on to this very day.

Stein was the same. Beautiful, inventive football saw one full-back, right-back Jim Craig, pass the ball to the other, left-back Tommy Gemmell, for Celtic’s equaliser in their 2-1 win in Lisbon.

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The Lanarkshire-born manager’s attacking philosophy conquered Inter Milan’s ‘Catenaccio’ system under Helenio Herrera – himself ranked seventh on France Football’s list.

Herrera’s tactics – the word ‘Catenaccio’ means ‘door-bolt’ in Italian – relied on a highly-defensive system designed to nullify attacks and prevent goal-scoring opportunities. Effective, yes, but beautiful no.

And Stein’s victory was celebrated across Europe as a breath-taking antidote to the negative tactics that had thrived for Inter and Herrera – winning the European Cup in 1964 and 1965 – utilising Catenaccio.

The number of trophies Stein won can be impressively listed out – 10 Scottish league championships won in 13 years as Celtic, nine of them claimed in succession. A total of 25 major honours were lifted in Stein’s tenure.

But more than that, Stein imbedded in Celtic a philosophy of playing that became a permanent aspiration for the club. Winning trophies is one thing, but doing so while “playing beautiful, inventive football” - the Celtic Way - is another.

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