Paul Lambert made footballing history 26 years ago today as the fulcrum of the Borussia Dortmund team which upset the odds by defeating Juventus 3-1 in the final of the Champions League.

Then 26, Lambert became the first Scottish player to win the current version of the club game’s most coveted trophy (only fellow midfielder Darren Fletcher, as an unused substitute for Manchester United in their 2008 penalty shoot-out victory against Chelsea and full-back Andy Robertson, who starred in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in 2019, have emulated that achievement.

Yet that was only one of several distinctions he achieved that evening in Munich’s Olympiastadion, one of which game show host Bradley Walsh revealed to the nation earlier this year.

“I knew I was the first Scot to collect a winner’s medal from the competition – as opposed to those who won the European Cup,” he said.

“However, I’m also the first British player ever to win either of those tournaments with a foreign club – and I know that because I was watching The Chase recently and that was one of the questions!”

Lambert had impressed Dortmund while playing against them for Motherwell in the UEFA Cup in 1994/95 but it was only after he took advantage of the recently introduced Bosman ruling that he was able to move abroad when his contract at Fir Park had expired.

“The previous summer I’d decided not to stay with Motherwell,” he recalled. “I contacted clubs all over Europe to let them know I’d be a free agent.

“I didn’t get too many replies but I had a trial with PSV Eindhoven which came to nothing before I passed the audition at Dortmund.

“The first thing I did when I joined was to set about learning the language. The Switzerland striker, Stephane Chapuisat, and the Portugal midfielder Paulo Sousa were the only other non-German in the squad and they spoke it fluently.

“I’d seen British players like Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Paul Gascoigne struggle abroad because they couldn’t communicate with their team-mates and I was determined that wouldn’t happen to me.

“The other lads had welcomed me when I arrived but they were also impressed by the fact I was making the effort to speak German. It was just as well I did, too, because our coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, was brilliant but he didn’t have much English.

“Working with him and players like Stefan Klos, Matthias Sammer, Jurgen Kohler, Andy Moller, Stefan Router and Karl-Heinz Reidle lifted me on to another level.

“I wasn’t an outcast and I was pleased to find I could hold my own in that company. We had a great season, especially in Europe, beating Manchester United home and away in the semi-finals.”

Lambert was a favourite of Hitzfeld’s, as was evinced by the role he handed the Scotland midfielder in the final.

“My job was to man-mark Zinedine Zidane, who made everything happen for Juventus,” he explained. “It wasn’t entirely new to me because I’d been used to marking some excellent No. 10s in the Bundesliga – people like Georghe Hagi, Thomas Hassler and Stefan Effenberg.

“Zidane, though, was something else. He was probably the best player in the world at the time so that was another step up.

“I hadn’t realised he was so tall – he’s 6’ 4” – and he could do step-overs with either foot. He’s also the only player I’ve ever seen who looked as though he was gliding over the pitch. I soon discovered that ball-watching was out because he’d just drift away and kill you so I decided to forget all about the ball and just concentrated on following him everywhere.

“My two best memories of that night were making an interception just as he was about to pull the trigger and of claiming the assist for our opening goal.

“Ottmar had told me the night before that I wouldn’t be on the ball too often but that if it did come to me then I should always try diagonal crosses to the far post.

“He said that Juve were vulnerable to high balls and that, if I got the chance, I should aim for that. When their ‘keeper, Angelo Peruzzi, punched a corner to me I fired one in first time and Karl-Heinz Reidle put it away. He headed home our second from a corner and, although Alessandro Del Piero pulled one back, Lars Ricken came off the bench to score the clincher for us.”

Lambert returned home six months later, signing for Celtic as a result of his wife’s homesickness but he continues to rack up the air miles to Dortmund.

“I know now how the Lisbon Lions feel when they meet the fans be-cause that 1997 team was Borussia’s Lions,” he said. “It’s the only time we won the Champions League, although Jurgen Klopp’s side lost to Bayern Munich in the 2013 final.

“Nowadays I have my own square in their Walk of Fame outside the ground, I play for their Legends team and I often go to games.

“Usually the club gives me free tickets but this season I paid my own way because I wanted to join the Yellow Wall, the 25,000-strong standing area at the Westfalion.

“The fans gave me a staggering reception. My last game for Dort-mund had been a 2-0 home win against Parma in a Champions League group game. For the last 15 minutes the crowd chanted my name non-stop.

“I was quite emotional when I got to the dressing room afterwards but soon our PR guy came in and said: ‘Paul, you need to go back out because they’re refusing to leave!’

“So I did a lap of honour and applauded all four sides of the stadium. But even when I went to my car an hour later there were over 100 supporters surrounding it, crying and begging me not to go.

“Leaving Dortmund was the hardest thing I ever did in football. Like Celtic, it’s a special club.”