Atletico Madrid taking the field for the Champions League Final on Saturday may evoke thoughts of what might have been for Denis Connaghan.

He was the man between the sticks when Celtic lost 2-0 on aggregate in the infamous European Cup semi-final against the Spaniards in 1974.

But the former goalkeeper is unlikely to dwell overlong on his memories as his focus now is on working in the background at Neilston Juniors where he has been a club official for the past 18 years

The East Renfrewshire village where he has lived for 42 years is a far cry from Coburg Street in the Gorbals where he was born.

In 1957 his family moved to Pollokshields and Denis went to Holyrood Secondary where he soon caught the eye playing in goal for a successful school football team that included striker Harry Hood and soon-to-be Queen's Park defenders John Cole and John Pollacheck.

He said: "Our team made it to the Scottish Secondary final but Harry was banned from playing on account of having signed for St Roch's.

"His replacement was none other than Jim McCalliog and we won the final 6-0 against a school from Dundee."

Glasgow United were starting up at this time and scout Sam Beck persuaded Denis to join them. He was soon snapped up by Sean Fallon for Celtic, whose manager Jimmy McGrory decided to toughen the youngster up by farming him out to Yoker Athletic.

Celtic released him a year later and the 18-year-old Denis signed for a Renfrew side containing the likes of Brian Kelly, John McGuire and Frank McAteer.

George Connolly, who had kept goal when Renfrew lost the 1962 Scottish Cup Final to Rob Roy, was still at the club but competing for the gloves brought out the best in Denis and his displays earned him a move to St Mirren, whose manager was former Ipswich Town defender Doug Millward.

He said: "Within months Doug quit to head for the USA, where football was just starting up, and he wanted me to join him. His replacement, Alex Wright, wanted the transfer monies to bring in Eric Murray of Dundee United so the deal was pushed through. I played for a year and a bit with Baltimore Bays in the same team as former Manchester United great Dennis Viollet."

Returning home for Christmas 1967, he was granted training facilities at Love Street.

That led to another stint with the Saints until Celtic boss Jock Stein's 1971 swoop for him in the aftermath of the shock 4-1 League Cup defeat by Partick Thistle.

Denis was a Celt for six years and says the highlights were winning the Drybrough and Scottish Cups in 1974 as well as playing in the side that clinched a ninth successive league championship.

He was released in 1977 and played for Clydebank and Clyde prior to being reinstated to the Junior ranks with Arthurlie in 1980.

He said: "I signed for John Dove intending to stay only a year but things went better than he or I ever imagined. Arthurlie went all the way to the Junior Cup Final only to go down 1-0 at Hampden Park against our rivals Pollok.

"That was a fabulous side with John Redburn, Charlie Palmer, Jackie Heaney and Bobby Skippen as well as the best Junior player I ever came across in John Thomson, who was a fabulous sweeper in the mould of my former Celtic team-mate John Clark.

"I enjoyed great times until finally all the injuries and knocks picked up during my career forced me to call it a day at the age of 36.

"Football has been good to me and thankfully I've continued to mix with so many good people in my various roles with Neilston ever since a previous manager, Brian "Brass" Stevenston, persuaded me to come on board to help him out.

"Juniors is in my blood now just as it is with great Neilston servants Hugh Blair and Brian Sweeney.

"My own son Denis played for the club and now helps Andy Whiteford on the coaching side. Our Central First Division title win is a sure sign of the good times coming back for the Farmer's Boys.

"I just love being involved and nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing the boys who used to form our Shed Crew coming forward to take up positions as hard working committee members."