Celtic's 'golden era' captain Billy McNeill dies aged 79

Celtic's 'golden era' captain Billy McNeill dies aged 79

McNeill's status in the Scottish game is nearly beyond compare after a huge career in football not just at our great rivals Celtic but also as manager of clubs such as Aberdeen, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

He won the league nine times with the club, the Scottish Cup seven times and six Scottish League Cups.

McNeill managed the club twice, leading them to another four league crowns.

"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.

"Though the man known as "Cesar" to Celtic fans is predominately known for his club career, his Scotland career also saw him help the team to new heights - in his first match as captain of Scotland he led the team to a 1-0 victory over England in front of more than 133,000 fans at Hampden Park".

"He was a great man and at this sad time my thoughts are with Liz and her family".

A statement from his family said: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father Billy McNeill".

It was only the arrival of Stein in 1965 that galvanised Celtic into a winning machine, and as captain and ever-present McNeill was in a ideal position to reap the benefit.

While McNeill had been ill for some time, the news still came as a shock to his fellow Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld, who told Press Association Sport: "Today's news is a tragedy".

"He was a big thin boy with spindly legs but he was majestic in the air, even at that age". He was never arrogant or egotistical.

"We were the captains of Rangers and Celtic in the past of course but, more recently, we received our honorary doctorates from Glasgow University on the same day which was a special occasion - so we had a lot in common". I've lost a very good friend today.

"His presence on a matchday here at Celtic Park, where he would cheer on the team, was always a great opportunity to meet up with him, and it was also an indication that he always was, before everything else, a Celtic supporter, faithful through and through".

Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, described the Celtic legend as "a truly good man".

File photo dated 01-08-2015 of Former Celtic player and manager Billy McNeill.

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