Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 28 October 2020

Former Celtic captain and Lisbon Lion Billy McNeill has died aged 79

Also an ex-manager at the club, McNeill skippered the Hoops to European Cup glory in 1967.

RIP: Billy McNeill.
RIP: Billy McNeill.

FORMER CELTIC CAPTAIN — the leader of the Lisbon Lions — and manager Billy McNeill has died aged 79.

The club confirmed the news this morning with a statement from McNeill’s family on their website:

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father, Billy McNeill,” it reads in full.

“He passed away late last night (Monday, 22 April) 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.

“We would also like to note our love and appreciation to our mother, Liz, for the care, devotion and love she gave to our father throughout his illness. No one could have done any more.

“Whilst 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.”

McNeill famously led the Scottish outfit to European Cup glory in 1967, beating Inter Milan 2-1 in the final in Lisbon. He was key as Celtic won nine league crowns on the bounce, adding seven Scottish Cups and six League Cups in the process.

As manager, he had two stints at the helm and steered the Bhoys to a further four league titles. He also had spells in charge of Manchester City and Aston Villa.

McNeill, who was also capped 29 times for Scotland, had suffered from dementia since 2010.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell added: “Billy McNeill was our greatest-ever captain and one of the finest players ever to wear the famous green and white Hoops.

“His record as a player is extraordinary. He made 790 competitive appearances for Celtic – more than any other player in our history – and during that time he won nine league titles, seven Scottish Cups, six League Cups and, of course, the European Cup triumph in 1967.

“That remains the greatest moment in our club’s long and illustrious history, and the image of Billy holding aloft the trophy in the Estadio Nacional in Lisbon is an iconic one which is now immortalised in the stunning statue at the front of The Celtic Way.

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

“This is the saddest of days for the Celtic Family, and also for the wider football world. We mourn Billy McNeill’s passing and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends, while we also give thanks for Billy’s life and the incredible joy he brought to so many people as a Celtic player, a Celtic manager and a great Celtic man.”

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

About the author:

Emma Duffy

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel