David Potter’s Celtic Player of the Day, No.43 – Billy McNeill

It is indeed difficult to come anywhere close to doing justice to what Billy McNeill did for the club. 23 major medals doesn’t even come close to commemorating his achievements, and it it surely fitting that his statue is situated at the bottom of the Celtic Way in London Road. In so many ways he symbolises Celtic.

He came into the team in 1958, but these were difficult days for the club, and things probably got more difficult for Billy when his mentor Jock Stein left in March 1960.

The years between 1960 and 1965 were the years in which Billy often seemed to carry the club, suffering major disappointments and even occasion dabbling with the idea of moving elsewhere.

But it all changed when Jock came back. Billy was “Jock on the park” and how symbolic it was that the new Golden Age all began with Billy’s header in the 1965 Scottish Cup final.

Copyright: imago/United Archives International

For the next ten years under Billy’s captaincy, the team competed in 30 Scottish competitions and lost only 9 of them. And there was that day in Lisbon as well. That really says it all.

Commanding in the air, brilliant on the ground, inspirational in the dressing room, diplomatic off the field and a born winner everywhere. He never played for anyone else, and how fitting it was that he retired gracefully in 1975 at the end of a Scottish Cup final.

He retired undefeated.

David Potter

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About Author

I am Celtic author and historian and write for The Celtic Star. I live in Kirkcaldy and have followed Celtic all my life, having seen them first at Dundee in March 1958. I am a retired teacher and my other interests are cricket, drama and the poetry of Robert Burns.

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