Former players pay tribute to Billy McNeill

Dozens of former players gathered on Friday to pay their final respects to Celtic great Billy McNeill.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 9:46 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 10:53 pm
Fans hold up banners in memory of the late Billy McNeill before the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Celtic Park

Former team-mates and opponents of McNeill were joined by players who served under him during his two spells as Celtic manager.

Here are some of the tributes paid to the former Aberdeen, Celtic, Manchester City and Aston Villa manager, who won 31 trophies with the Hoops.

Former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Paddy Crerand: “I signed for Celtic the same day as Billy, we went into Celtic Park together - and that’s how long I’ve known him. He was a great fella, in actual fact, he was a great centre-half. Anybody who’s met Billy would say the same thing - he was a great fella.”

Former Aberdeen defender Alex McLeish: “I worked with a legend. Billy gave me my debut, I’ll never forget that day. (He was) brilliant - banter on the training ground, serious when he had to give you a tongue-lashing. Type of guy who when he walks in the room everyone stands up or shuts up. He was a great man. I know his family well, he’ll be sadly missed.”

Former Rangers winger Willie Henderson: “It’s a sad day for Scottish football, for Billy’s family. (He was a) superstar in every manner of the game. A super person.”

Former Celtic defender David Moyes: “It’s a really sad day, not just for me and my thoughts on it but more importantly for his family, and for the Celtic family who have always seen him as one of the greats, if not the great. We’re really sad he’s passed away, but he was obviously someone who was very important in terms of my career.”

Former Manchester City, Celtic and Republic of Ireland defender Mick McCarthy: “He changed my career, he signed me from Barnsley for Manchester City and sent me on my way to an international career as well. I had five-and-a-half years with him at City and here, and we fought and argued every single day, which was great, and I loved him to bits. He had a big influence on my life. He judged me on his standards, which was pretty harsh as I was a centre-half and had to live up to his standards! But he had a big influence on me and my football career, but my life as well.”

Former Celtic midfielder Peter Grant: “The utmost respect has been pouring out from everyone and that shows the standards he set for everyone that followed him. I’m very, very proud to have known him. He gave me my career probably. He gave me my debut, signed me as a young man when I was 10 years of age.”

Former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner: “He was an immense man, character, presence, just everything, and I think he portrayed Celtic for what it was history-wise. He was just different from everyone else.”