Ross Tokely is happy to accept the gratitude of his Celtic supporting friends 20 years on from the result which humiliated them.
Tokely was part of Inverness’ team which triumphed 3-1 against Celtic in their Scottish Cup tie at Parkhead in 2000, with the First Division club’s victory resulting in the sacking of Hoops manager John Barnes.
Although director of football Kenny Dalglish took the team for the remainder of the season, Barnes’ sacking set the wheels in motion for Martin O’Neill’s successful period in charge.
Following O’Neill’s appointment that summer, Celtic went to secure the domestic treble in his first season in charge, and reached the UEFA Cup final in 2003.
Following Caley Thistle’s result, Tokely travelled back to Inverness with friends on a Celtic supporters bus before continuing celebrations with his team-mates the following day.
Tokely says the Parkhead reshuffle brought upon by the famous result benefited the Hoops in the long run.
He said: “I never went home on the players bus. I went home on a Celtic supporters’ bus, I had a lot of friends and family down.
“They were on the juice and I was on the beer, with Celtic fans taking stock of one of the biggest cup shocks.
“They were delighted for me but they were embarrassed a club like ours had beat them – although a lot of my friends will thank me for that result in a weird way because we helped change their manager and they’ve had a lot of success since. We’ll take a bit of credit in that.”
At 20, Tokely was the youngest member of Caley Jags’ starting line-up, with the defender deployed further upfield in a right midfield role.
Tokely, who went on to become Inverness’ club appearance record holder, says the significance of the result took time to sink in.
He added: “A lot of them were international players, I was making my way through the leagues. I was also slightly playing out of position at right midfield, but I really enjoyed the game.
“I think the younger players don’t really appreciate the result we got that night. For me it took a few more years to understand what a major achievement it was for the team and the club.”
Tokely credits manager Steve Paterson with instilling belief into his side on the night, adding: “He was a very unique and special manager for me. He focused on us, wanted us to go out and express ourselves.
“He was always a very positive manager, he never really focused too much on the opposition. We had a lot of good attacking players in our side, I did feel a weird atmosphere regarding their form, I knew on our day we could match any team at the top level.”