Lennon hails gigantic Celtic icon, Billy McNeill

The first Briton to lift the European Cup in 1967 died yesterday at the age of 79 after battling with dementia.

If you want to talk about Celtic’s legends, you always have to talk about former Scottish defender Billy McNeill.

William McNeill played for the Scottish Premier League team all his professional career, from 1957 to 1975 winning the European Cup in the 1966-1967 season.

But he also managed the team twice, winning four league championships, three Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup.

McNeill passed away yesterday at the age of 79, and current Celtic boss Neil Lennon wanted to pay tribute to a club legend.

“When you think of Celtic and our incredible history, Billy is always one of the first names that come to mind,” Lennon was quoted by the BBC.

“He was our greatest-ever captain and one of our greatest-ever players, and along with his team-mates, achieved historic things for Celtic in the 1960s and 70s.”

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He added: “I love Billy’s statue, which is the first thing you see whenever you walk up The Celtic Way. It’s the perfect image of him, holding aloft the European Cup, and it will remind future generations of supporters of what a great Celtic man he was.”

“Billy set the benchmark as a Celtic player and captain, and that’s something everyone who pulls on the jersey has to aspire to,” Scott Brown said.

“It is often said that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but with Billy, as with all the Lisbon Lions, meeting them has always been a wonderful experience,” chief executive Peter Lawwell continued.

“They have remained humble men, regardless of their incredible achievements as Celtic players, embodying everything that is good and positive about Celtic Football Club.”

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