Billy McNeill

The Celtic team of the early 1960s was arguably the worst in its history, with a creaking organisational hierarchy and a spell in which they failed to claim any major silverware. However, in 1965, their former reserve team coach Jock Stein returned to the club as manager. One of his first moves as boss was making a player he’d scouted as a youth prospect eight years prior, Billy McNeill, the club’s new cornerstone.

The impact was immediate. Celtic went on to win nine consecutive league titles and became the first British team to lift the European Cup. The storylines from the match against Inter are well known: the entire Bhoys side being born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park, Helenio Herrera’s men being on a variety of “supplements” to help them train. Famously, post-match confusion meant McNeill ended up lifting the trophy alone as the rest of the team was in another part of the ground.

A true bandiera, McNeill only played for Celtic, racking up 486 appearances in 18 years. He also had two spells as club manager, winning four titles, and is arguably in the holy trinity of Celtic icons alongside Stein and Jinky Johnstone. Having battled dementia in recent years, he is now reunited with that pair.

Fun fact: McNeill’s nickname “Caesar” didn’t come out of any relevance to Roman nobles, but rather a misspelling of citrus enthusiast Cesar Romero. McNeill’s driving skills were believed to be similar to those of the orange wedge fan’s in the original Ocean’s 11.

Billy McNeill
2 March 1940 – 22 April 2019
Died aged 79 (four picks)