PARKHEAD will be awash with emotion on Saturday afternoon when Celtic take on Kilmarnock on their run-in to what they hope will be their eighth successive title.

Club icon Billy McNeill passed away on Monday evening at the age of 79 following a brave battle against dementia.

Prior to the 12.30pm kick-off, the club’s first-team squad will lay a wreath on Celtic Way, with a minute’s applause before the start of the game.

Members of McNeill’s family, some of whom will be present at the game, preferred applause to silence.
A family statement read: “We do not believe football stadiums were ever built to be silent. Our father would not have wanted that. They should be places of noise, passion and enjoyment.

“Football was his life and Celtic Park was a very large part of that. So please celebrate his life with a moment of cheers, songs and applause because that would make him feel at home again.”

The champions have confirmed plans to pay tribute to their legendary former captain and manager during their remaining fixtures in this campaign.

McNeill will be honoured before and during the encounter with Killie and further tributes will be paid when they face Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden on May 25 – exactly 52 years to the day Jock Stein’s all-conquering side won the European Cup in Lisbon.

The players will wear special black armbands bearing the number five McNeill wore as a player, while there will also be video tributes within the stadium.

For the grand finale against their Edinburgh rivals, all of the first team will wear the number five on their shorts.


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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