It's two decades to the day since Celtic recorded a result that sent shockwaves throughout the whole of European football.

Martin O'Neill's side were embarking on their first crack at the Champions League back in August 2000.

Celtic had supposedly been handed the 'death draw' before a ball had been kicked in the competition proper.

The men from Glasgow's east end had been paired with four-time winners Ajax in the third qualifying round.

The winners would advance to the lucrative Champions League group stages.

O'Neill's team would win 3-2 on aggregate over two legs and create history in the process by becoming the first-ever Celtic team to compete in the group stages of European football's elite tournament.

The result in the Amsterdam ArenA, since renamed the Johan Cruyff ArenA, still stirs the emotions and blood of the Celtic supporters to this day.

The Northern Irishman's outfit powered their way to a magnificent 3-1 victory in Amsterdam with goals from Dutchman Bobby Petta, flying wing-back Didier Agathe and a bullet header from Englishman Chris Sutton.

The result belies a rare performance on the European stage from Celtic that really took the breath away.

It was a display full of swagger, joie de vivre and class.

Celtic left Ajax sprawled on the canvas and their Champions League dream in tatters.

It was also a throwback to a time when Jock Stein's legendary Lisbon Lions side of 1967 bestrode Europe and captured the greatest club prize of them all.

Although Celtic would succumb 1-0 at Parkhead in the return leg, the damage had already been done in Holland.

Paul Lambert, a Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund barely three years previous, insists that the Ajax result was the making of O'Neill's team.

The former Scotland midfielder believes the win helped Celtic re-establish themselves at the top table of European football once again.

He admits O'Neill ensured that, certainly under his managerial watch, reputations counted for nothing and that Celtic would never fear a European foe again.

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Lambert said: "Ajax were a right good side back then and they were the favourites to advance in the tie.

"This was viewed as the hardest draw that Celtic could have got back then and nobody really gave us a chance of qualifying.

"It was Martin's team's first foray into the Champions League as a manager. We played Ajax off the park and beat them well because we were a really good team ourselves.

"Although Ajax won 1-0 at Celtic Park the damage was done in the first leg.

"That result was the one that really kickstarted the Martin O'Neill European era at Celtic.

"We were 2-0 up inside 20 minutes with goals from Bobby and Didier and then Chris made it 3-1 with a wonderful header on 55 minutes. It was such an enjoyable match to play in.

"We were so dominant, so comfortable.

"It was actually hard to believe it was an away tie in Europe because the Celtic supporters were everywhere in the stadium and the atmosphere was electric.

"Winning that Ajax tie put Celtic firmly back on the map in a European sense as we had claimed a massive scalp.

"The rest of Europe actually sat up and took notice of Celtic.

"Every team Celtic drew in Europe after the Ajax match knew we would be more than a match for them as we were a quality side who could hold our own against anybody.

"That period under Martin culminated in Celtic reaching the UEFA cup final in 2003 which we were unlucky to lose to Jose Mourinho's Porto.

"But the Ajax victory was the one that gave us all the belief that Celtic could compete not just domestically but in the European arena as well.

"Teams started to realise soon enough that Celtic was becoming a force in Europe once again under Martin."

Celtic Way: Chris Sutton scores against AjaxChris Sutton scores against Ajax

Lambert attributes the football revolution that occurred at Celtic Park 20 years ago down to one man: O'Neill.

The 52-year-old insists Celtic were loaded with star quality and leaders all over the pitch all in the same mould as the Parkhead boss.

It wasn't long before O'Neill's Celtic side had struck up a fearsome reputation on the field.

Just ask European heavyweights such as Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Lyon and Liverpool, who all left Celtic Park without a win in those halcyon days.

The former Livingston, Norwich, Aston Villa and Ipswich manager, reckons the significance of beating Ajax could never be underestimated as it was the catalyst for everything else that followed.

Lambert said: "I had signed for Celtic from Borussia Dortmund and I had won the Champions League with them. They were an incredible team.

"Martin walked into a dressing full of good players but, before long, Celtic had a team crammed full of international-quality players and the European results speak for themselves.

"There were guys like Bobo Balde, Joos Valgaeren, Johan Mjallby at the back, Neil Lennon, Stan Petrov, Alan Thompson in midfield and the likes of Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton and John Hartson.

"We had leaders all over the park in that Celtic side.

"We were all big characters and none of us was a shrinking violet on or off the park.

"The players in the dressing room just gelled so quickly.

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"It was Martin, John Robertson and Steve Walford who forged that sense of camaraderie and team spirit.

"I remember the game against Ajax in particular as that was the night that Martin really came into his own.

"Martin was a man of few words and when he spoke you listened intently as it was usually inspirational.

"He sent us out into the Amsterdam Arena feeling 10-feet tall. Martin knew exactly when and how to rally his team.

"He was so adept at giving those golden speeches before every big match. Martin just knew how to influence and inspire us as players.

"The night of the Ajax game he gave a stirring and emotional team talk. He told the players that nobody gave us a chance of winning but that he totally believed in us. He even predicted that Celtic would beat Ajax over two legs.

"Martin told us we would make history and take the club into the Champions League group stages for the first time. He was right.

​"More often than not Celtic got results on the European stage when it mattered because Martin knew how and when to press the player's buttons.

"He was brilliant at that kind of thing.

"Great managers like Ottmar Hitzfeld at Borussia Dortmund and Martin at Celtic possessed a knack for giving you a pep talk at the right moment before every big game and instilling you with self-confidence and belief.

"Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Lyon, Porto, Valencia, Villarreal, Celta Vigo, VfB Stuttgart, Anderlecht, Blackburn Rovers and Liverpool were just some of the teams that came to Celtic Park and played European football during Martin's era and they all left without a win.

"All of those teams had a massive European pedigree yet Celtic went toe-to-toe with them all especially at home.

"It was the Ajax game that made everything else that happened to Celtic in Europe under Martin possible.

"It was one of those big-game European performances from Celtic.

"After winning so convincingly in the Amsterdam ArenA we didn't feel the need to fear anybody on the European stage.

"I have had Celtic supporters come up to me and say that outwith watching Jock Stein's Lisbon Lions side that conquered Europe and lifted the European Cup the O'Neill era is up there in terms of the best experiences they have ever had watching Celtic in Europe.

"The Celtic team of that era under Martin really were a fantastic side.

"We won 25 games in a row and we went 77 matches unbeaten at home which spanned a three year period from 2001 to 2004.

"It was just a great time to be at Celtic."

Some 20 years on from that unforgettable night in Europe, the Celtic fans still get misty-eyed over O'Neill's team.

That monumental Champions League win over Ajax rightfully sent the supporters into raptures.

Indeed, it's not often a club like Celtic can boast of taking Ajax to the cleaners.