Billy McNeill

The word legend is bandied about very frequently in football circles usually about players who have not really done much to deserve it.

Today, though, came news that someone who truly warrants that accolade has died.

Billy McNeill will live in history as the first British man to lift the European Cup. The whole 1967 Celtic team can be described as legends – that was an incredible achievement, to win that trophy previously only acquired by teams from southern Europe, with players all born within a tewnty mile radius from the stadium of the club for whom they were playing. It was almost inconceivable at the time. It is utterly impossible now.

McNeill himself always came across as a gentleman – though doubtless the centre forwards he played against may have a different perspective. He presented as articulate and thoughtful in interviews.

Such a pity that his later years were blighted by dementia. I don’t suppose all those years heading a heavy rain-soaked leather football can have helped in that regard.

Not that I wish to end on a sad note as his life and achievements ought to be celebrated.

But words are inadequate.

William (Billy) McNeill: 2/3/1940 – 22/4/2019. So it goes.

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