Nicknamed “Cesar” by the clubs fans, McNeill captained the Celtic team that defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon in 1967, the first and only time a Scottish team has won European football’s most coveted club prize.
He appeared 790 times for the Glasgow club, winning nine league titles, seven Scottish cups and six league cups. McNeill also had a successful managerial career during two spells as Celtic boss. He managed Manchester City, Aston Villa and Aberdeen as well, where he was replaced by Alex Ferguson.
“Billy McNeill was a Celtic player, manager and ambassador. First and foremost, however, he was always a Celtic supporter and his love for the club was evident throughout his life.
“He was a one-club man as a player and, for Billy, that club had to be Celtic. He spent 18 years at the club, joining in 1957 and bowing out in 1975. He made his first-team debut on August 23, 1958 in a 2-0 home win over Clyde in the League Cup, while his final appearance came on May 3, 1975 when he captained Celtic to a 2-1 victory over Airdrie in the Scottish Cup final.”
A statue of McNeill, arms aloft, holding the European Cup greets visitors to Celtic Park. The European Cup winning team, all of whom were born within 30 miles of the club’s stadium, became known as the “Lisbon Lions” and is one of only a handful of European teams to win four trophies in one season.
As well as the continental triumph, McNeill is idolized by Celtic fans for securing a dramatic league and cup double for the club as manager in its 1988 centenary season.
McNeill had reportedly been suffering from ill health in recent years with his family revealing he had dementia in 2017.
Just last week, McNeill was awarded Athletic Bilbao’s “One Club Man” award for his commitment and loyalty to Celtic throughout his playing career.