Former Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic paid his respects today to Billy McNeill two years after scoring that emotional goal while wearing the Number 5 Celtic jersey on the 67th minute, in Celtic’s first match since the passing of our greatest ever Captain.
Jozo simply tweeted “Hail Cesar” and that said it all.
hail Cesar 💚5️⃣🍀🙌🏼 https://t.co/T39W1JKMSK
— Jozo Šimunović (@SimunovicJozo) April 27, 2021
Jozo’s previous twitter activity was to congratulate his former teammates on retaining the Scottish Cup in December after beating Hearts in the Final…
— Jozo Šimunović (@SimunovicJozo) December 20, 2020
Simunovic had a year option on his contract, similar to Jonny Hayes but Celtic opted not to take the players up on that extension to free up funds and places in the squad for new recruits. Keeping Jozo and Jonny would surely have been a better option than bringing in the unimpressive and hugely expensive alternatives of Shane Duffy and Diego Laxalt, believed to be the two highest earners at the club.
And Celtic actually paid Brighton a £2m loan fee to bring the Irish defender to the club for a season.
You wonder what Billy McNeill – the best centre half ever to wear the Hoops – would have made of all that?
Willie Wallace, ne of Cesar’s teammates that afternoon in Lisbon had this to say about the tribute to Big Billy two years ago today, which was rounded off perfectly in the traditional Celtic fairytale style by Jozo’s headed goal.
“It was a fantastic day for Billy and for the Club,” Wille said, as reported on The Celtic Star. “As a friend said to me you could not write a script for the scoring of the goal.
Congratulations to No.5 (Jozo Simunovic) for an excellent “Billy McNeill” type goal. So well taken and the ’67 chorus’ was marvellous.
“Celtic supporters are like no others in the world what a goal and what timing. It makes me proud to have known Billy and to be part of the Celtic family. Hail Hail”
Willie had earlier in the week made this tribute to his friend and former teammate after hearing of his sad passing.
“Along with all members of the vast Celtic Family all over the world we are devastated to hear of Billy McNeill’s passing.
“Billy was a great friend to myself and family and made me very welcome when I joined Celtic in 1966.
“It was an honour playing in the team with Billy as captain and I will never forget Lisbon when Billy raised the European Cup high in the air.
“We have great memories of Billy, Liz and family when our girls and theirs caught up when they were very young, that was before Billy’s son was born.
“We send our sincere condolences to Liz and all the family our thoughts and prayers are with them all.”We are do glad that we caught up with Billy and Liz last year when in Scotland. Billy, a great friend, player and gentleman RIP.”