WHEN speaking to Allan Moore, it is hard to believe the tragedy that has befallen both he and his family. The former winger, best known for spells at Hearts, St Johnstone, Dunfermline and Airdrie in a playing career that took in 10 senior Scottish clubs, is one of the chirpiest men in the game.

And yet, behind the bubbly effervescence that is his trademark, lies unimaginable torment and grief. At the age of just 53, Moore has already lost a brother, two sisters, and a nephew. He tries to forget the dates they died, as a means to shield himself from regular reminders of their passing. But there is one date he cannot forget.

What should have been the proudest moment of his managerial career, became one of the darkest episodes of his entire life. On September 24th, 2013, Moore guided his Morton side to a stunning victory over Celtic in the League Cup at Parkhead through Dougie Imrie’s extra-time penalty. But the jubilation soon turned to devastation, as his brother Steven passed away the very next day while on holiday in Turkey.

It is only now, over four years on, that he is beginning to be able to separate the two events, and look back on that night when Morton stunned Neil Lennon’s champions of Scotland with justifiable pride.

“It was all a bit of a blur,” Moore said. “I’ve never really looked back on it and considered what an achievement it was, because it was overshadowed by the tragedy that happened to our family.

“One of the Morton supporters had got a big canvas made up of Dougie scoring the penalty, and he said he was going to get one made up for me. I told him not to, because to be honest, I didn’t want it. It was a reminder of a bad memory.

“I don’t want Steven dying to be the thing that defines that night, but it’s hard for it not to be. I didn’t get a chance to celebrate the result really, because the next two weeks was just all about coping with my brother passing away.

“With beating Celtic, my phone never stopped, and that was hard to deal with in the midst of everything that was going on. Now that I look back at it, I am able more to separate the two things, and it does give you that little bit of pride.

“I might actually phone that supporter back and ask him to send that canvas up after all.”

That night should have been the launchpad for Moore’s success at Morton, but instead, it was the high watermark that spelled the beginning of the end for his Cappielow reign.

After narrowly missing out on the First Division title the season before to Jackie McNamara’s Partick Thistle, Morton had slumped to the bottom of the division by the time they defeated Celtic, making the shock result even harder to fathom.

Moore ploughed on, hiding his grief behind his mask of joviality, but on reflection, he can see now that while he may have been present in body, his mind was elsewhere.

“It did affect my managerial career at Morton after that to be honest,” he said. “I could never have imagined what was going to happen after the final whistle at Parkhead that night.

“I’m not a great one for looking back, because there’s people who are worse off than me and people who are better off. I’m never one to be jealous of others.

“When I got sacked from Morton, Douglas Rae was great with me. He was practically crying when he sacked me, and I’m honest enough to recognise that we weren’t getting the job done at the time.

“If you don’t get the results, you get sacked. That’s it, and I have no regrets.”

One man who does harbour regret over Moore’s most famous night as a manager, and clearly a grudge still to this day too, is his Celtic-daft dad, Billy.

“My dad said to me that night that he hoped we did well, but that Celtic win,” he laughed. “When I went up to the box afterwards my wife was popping champagne, and my dad was sitting there in the huff.

“I said to him; ‘Come on dad, you’ve got to give me that one.’ But no, he was raging that we had cost Celtic a treble.

“That’s been his mentality his whole life and I love him for it. If he had changed it wouldn’t have been as special, that’s just him.

“My boy is Celtic daft as well and we went to the St Johnstone game recently, and we were talking about that night, and he said to my dad that he must have been proud of me. He shot back; ‘Naw, the wee bugger stopped us winning the treble.’ It was brilliant.

“He still tries to say it was a weakened team that Celtic had out, but I say to him ‘come on, they had Virgil van Dijk playing and he’s now the world’s most expensive defender’. He’s still not having it though.”

Moore is now taking the first steps back into the game as assistant manager to long-term friend Danny Lennon at Clyde, and rekindling his love of football after a bruising experience as manager of Arbroath soured him towards the profession.

And his advice for the current crop of Morton players as they look to shock Celtic once more in the Scottish Cup this afternoon is to come off the pitch regretting nothing, and seize their chance of a place in club history.

“They have to believe in themselves, enjoy themselves, and what will be will be,” said Moore.

“Nobody will expect them to do anything, so they have nothing to lose if they go and get beat. Nobody will remember that. But if they win, it will be remembered forever.

“We’ll always have our place in Morton’s history and no one can take that away from us. When you work in the lower leagues, you don’t often get these opportunities, and when they come along then you have to grasp them.

“I work at New College Lanarkshire, and a lady who is a huge Morton fan came in the other week to speak to our students. When she walked in she said; ‘Oh my god, you’re Allan Moore, aren’t you?’ I was thinking ‘what have I done?’ She said I had given her the best night of her life. It was a bit embarrassing in front of my colleagues, but wee things like that all these years later are really nice.

“I can finally say that it is definitely one of my proudest moments.”