Celtic have announced that legend Billy McNeill will be honoured with a bronze statue on the Celtic Way to mark his achievements as the club’s greatest ever captain.
McNeill captained Celtic to nine-in-a-row championship titles, seven Scottish Cups, six League Cups and lifted the European Cup in 1967 after Jock Stein’s side beat Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon.
McNeill replaced legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein in 1978 and won four league titles, three Scottish Cups and one League Cup in two spells as manager of the Glasgow side [1978-1983 and 1987-1991].
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, paid tribute to McNeill, he said: “Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s as a Celtic supporter, Billy McNeill was an inspiration to me and someone of huge stature in the game, not only on the field but also off it, as a statesman, a leader and a figurehead for our great club.
“His achievements for Celtic are simply outstanding and across a period of 27 years he gave so much to the club. It is a privilege to now know Billy, and consider him as a friend. He is someone who commands the respect of everyone across the entire footballing spectrum.
“We are delighted already to have Billy as our Ambassador at the club but the Board felt unanimously that he should recognised in this way, given all that he has contributed to Celtic over so many years. We look forward to the unveiling of the statue, which we are sure will be a great tribute to a great man.”
McNeill commented: “When Peter contacted me regarding the statue I was completely taken by surprise. Whenever I walk up the Celtic Way, I look on with a great sense of pride at the sight of Brother Walfrid, Big Jock and my old team-mate and friend Jinky rightly taking their place almost as guardians of Celtic Park.
“Every time I look back at this special club’s history and what we achieved it fills me with joy, and now to be told I am to be honoured beside these Celtic greats, this really is a special day for me and all my family.”
Sculptor John McKenna, who created the Jock Stein statue which stands at the entrance to Celtic Park, has been commissioned to produce the McNeill statue. It is expected to be unveiled later this year.