By: Newsroom Staff on 02 Mar, 2017 08:37
CELTIC legend Tommy Gemmell has passed away at the age of 73, and his death will be mourned by Celtic supporters and also the wider football world.
A member of the legendary Lisbon Lions, Tommy scored Celtic’s equaliser that famous day, on May 25, 1967, as Jock Stein’s side went on to beat Inter Milan 2-1 and lift the European Cup, the first British team to do so.
And Tommy was also one of the few players to have scored in more than one European Cup final, scoring again three years later in the 1970 final against Feyenoord in Milan’s San Siro Stadium.
He spent 10 years at Paradise, between 1961 and ’71, making 418 appearances and scoring 63 goals. And as well as his two European Cup final goals, there were also 31 penalties. Indeed, he only missed three spot-kicks from the 34 he took in his career, a remarkable conversion rate.
Tommy’s first-team debut came on January 5, 1963 when he played in a 5-1 league win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, while his first goal came at Rugby Park in October 1964. The Hoops lost 5-2 that day, although Celtic’s other scorer was the man who joined Tommy on the scoresheet in Lisbon just under three years later – Stevie Chalmers.
Although renowned as a left-back, Tommy had actually started the historic 1966/67 season in the right-back role, but he switched flanks at the turn of the year, with Jim Craig coming in at right-back. And the two full-backs were outstanding in the European Cup final, with Jim Craig setting up Tommy to blast home Celtic’s equaliser.
During his 10 years with the Hoops, Tommy won six league titles, three Scottish Cups, four League Cups and, of course, the European Cup. He was also capped 18 times for Scotland.
He made his 418th and final appearance for Celtic on November 3, 1971 in a European Cup tie away to Sliema Wanderers. The Hoops had won the first leg 5-0, with Tommy scoring one of the goals, and they also won the return leg 2-1. Two months later, he joined Nottingham Forest where he spent two years, playing alongside future Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, and coach, John Robertson.
After a short and unsuccessful spell at Miami Toros, he then joined Dundee for three years, and ironically captained them to League Cup glory, beating Celtic 1-0 in the 1973 final. He hung his boots up in 1977 and went straight into management at Dundee, staying there for three seasons. It was there he signed Jimmy Johnstone. He would then go on and manage Albion Rovers for two individual seasons, six years apart.
Tommy Gemmell is a true Celtic legend, part of the greatest side in the club’s history and a man who played a pivotal role in our greatest ever triumph when, in Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional, 11 men all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park, beat Inter Milan to win the European Cup.
The legend of the Lisbon Lions was created that night, and Tommy and his team-mates were assured their place in the pantheon of Celtic greats.
And, like the rest of the Lions, Tommy remained humble about his incredible football achievements.
The whole Celtic Family is mourning his passing, and everyone associated with the club sends their thoughts and prayers to his family, his fellow Lions and his many friends at this desperately sad time.
Celtic Chief Executive, Peter Lawwell said: “Everyone at Celtic is deeply saddened by the loss of Tommy, a true Celtic giant and a man who gave the club so many years of his life in an illustrious football career.
“Firstly, I would like to send our sincere condolences to Tommy’s family, our thoughts and prayers are with them all. They will have every support from the club at this most difficult of times.
“Tommy was a Celtic great, one of football’s greats and I know he will be so sadly missed by everyone who knew him.
“He was a man of huge stature in the game and someone who made such an important mark on Celtic Football Club.”
He added: “Tommy will forever hold his rightful place as one of the true Celtic legends.
“In this particular year it is so very sad to lose such an important figure - while we mourn his loss, I am sure all our supporters will also celebrate the life and the wonderful achievements of the great Tommy Gemmell”
Our thoughts are with Mary and Tommy’s family and friends at this very difficult time.
Funeral details will be announced in due course.
'They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind.’