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  • Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld: Billy was destined to be a Celtic great

    Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld: Billy was destined to be a Celtic great

    By: Joe Sullivan on 23 Apr, 2019 17:01

  • BERTIE Auld and John Clark paid an emotional tribute to their friend and fellow Lisbon Lisbon Lion, Billy McNeill, when they laid a wreath at Billy’s statue today (Tuesday).

    It took its place alongside the countless other tributes that have already been laid at the statue on The Celtic Way by supporters mourning the loss of the club’s legendary captain.

    Speaking today, Bertie Auld said: “It’s sad day for the club, but Billy is getting a bit of relief now, and to me that is so important.

    "I saw him when he was 17-years-old, just signed with Celtic down at the tunnel and such like, and he went from strength to strength. He was a magnificent asset to Celtic Football Club.

    “Big Jock signed him as a reserve player as he had recommended him to the club. Billy was big tall youngster standing at the bottom of the tunnel while I was training full-time with the first team and I remember shaking hands with him and saying ‘All the best, son.’

    “Billy had a tremendous presence about him. He was the type of man that you could rely on and we used to rely on Billy an awful lot as a player. He was a great player and a great captain and he hit the heights he deserved to hit. When he became manager here it was something that everybody wanted to happen, and he deserved that and the love Celtic fans had for him.

    “When I came back to Celtic, I wasn’t surprised that he was captain by then as he was very, very confident as a young player, even at 17-years-old. He was very confident in himself as I remember playing a few reserve games with him, and the confidence was obvious.

    “He was someone that you always looked up to, and not just because of his height, it was because of his mannerisms and the way he carried himself. To me, that was something that was so important as I remember my Dad saying to me, the great thing about the reserve team of today is that it is the first team of tomorrow – and Billy was important in bringing that forward.”

    Of course, Billy, Bertie and their team-mates went on to greatness as the Lisbon Lions and all moved on to football careers beyond wearing the Hoops, and they still looked up to Cesar during those years.

    Bertie added: “He had the same respect, we all respected each other’s position. That was the great thing about us – on and off the park.

    “Our paths crossed as managers as well, but the great thing about it was that we always committed ourselves. So when Billy was managing Celtic and I was managing the opposition, it was him against me and we always gave our best – I don’t think you’d be able to look at yourself in the mirror if it was anything other than that.

    “He was well-educated, well-mannered, a great parent and a great husband. To me that’s the sad thing as we were all close, all of our wives and families at functions and meetings. Liz has done extremely well, and we all feel for her and the family.

    “Billy was the perfect player, captain, manager and ambassador for the club. You just had to look at him to see his stature as his chest was always out and he loved that position. It didn’t matter where you were, he was able to conduct himself in the correct manner.

    “He was a magnificent player and he walked down that tunnel for every game carrying the ball with his chest stuck out, and he would be the same at receptions and functions later on in life. He always looked after himself and treated everybody and every occasion with respect.

    “He was a lovely man and he was a gentleman. He was a very good manager and at all times, Celtic was the first thing on his mind.”

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