Football: Billy McNeill, captain of Celtic's European Cup-winning team, dies aged 79

Billy McNeill's association with Celtic spanned more than 60 years and he managed the club in two spells.
Billy McNeill's association with Celtic spanned more than 60 years and he managed the club in two spells.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

(THE GUARDIAN) - Billy McNeill, the first British player to lift the European Cup as captain of the Celtic side that won the trophy in 1967, has died aged 79.

His association with the Scottish football giants spanned more than 60 years and he managed the club in two spells. He played 486 times for them from 1957 to 1975 as a defender, most famously for Jock Stein's "Lisbon Lions" when they defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in the final of the European Cup.

He then managed the side from 1978 to 1983 and 1987 to 1991. As player and manager he won 31 trophies with Celtic.

McNeill also played 29 times for Scotland. Later he managed Clyde, Aberdeen, Manchester City and Hibernian.

In a statement released by Celtic, his family announced: "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father Billy McNeill. He passed away late last night (April 22) 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.

"While 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."