Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Celtic great Billy McNeill, captain of the 'Lisbon Lions', dies age 79

Former Celtic captain Billy McNeill has died at the age of 79, his family announced on the club's website on Tuesday.

McNeill, who spent the whole of his playing career with the Glasgow giants, was captain of the "Lisbon Lions" - the Celtic side that in 1967 became the first British team to win the European Cup.

He also went on to manage Celtic.

McNeill had suffered from dementia for years and a statement issued by his children said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father Billy McNeill.

"He passed away late last night [Monday, April 22] surrounded by his family and loved ones. He suffered from dementia for a number of years and fought bravely to the end, showing the strength and fortitude he always has done throughout his life."

McNeill joined Celtic in 1957 from junior side Blantyre Victoria and holds the club record for most appearances with 790 over 18 seasons. The defender also won 29 caps for Scotland.

He had two spells as Celtic manager spanning nearly 10 years in total and won 31 trophies across his long association with the club.

The statement continued: "While this is a very sad time for all the family and we know our privacy will be respected, our father always made time for the supporters so please tell his stories, sing his songs and help us celebrate his life."

Former Celtic striker Frank McGarvey, who McNeill signed from Liverpool in 1980, told Press Association Sport: "It is a very, very sad day.

"He was loved by all the players and you don't hear that about all managers.

"He was the captain of the first team to win the European Cup. As a manager, he was a great manager.

"He won a lot of trophies with Celtic on and off the pitch but not only that, he was a great person, a fantastic man. He would do anything to help you. He will be sadly missed."

Football pundit and former Celtic striker Chris Sutton tweeted: "Such heartbreaking news. Billy McNeill was an inspirational leader, a legend and a lion. Thoughts go out to his family and the Celtic family."


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