Celtic legend Bertie Auld has led the tributes to his former teammate Billy McNeill at Celtic Park today, after the iconic captain sadly passed away at the age of 79.
As reported by The Daily Record, Auld and fellow Lisbon Lion John Clark laid a wreath at the McNeill statue that towers over the entrance to The Celtic Way, with Auld then performing a rendition of The Celtic Song to assembled fans paying their respects.
???? Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld is still in tune as he pays tribute to team mate Billy McNeill who passed away last night. A large crowd showed up to Celtic Park to watch him and John Clark lay a wreath #CapitalReports pic.twitter.com/j8PGj96thK
— CapitalScotland News (@CapitalScotNews) April 23, 2019
Auld famously sung the tune in the tunnel of Estadio Nacional before the European Cup Final in 1967, building the spirits of his teammates who would embark on one of the most legendary performances of any football side in history.
Winning the match against Inter Milan 2-1, McNeill would go on to lift the trophy, becoming the first British man to do so.
As quoted by The Daily Record, Auld later said of his captain today:
Billy was a born leader. I met him when he was just turned 17 and Jock Stein signed him for Celtic.
Even at that particular time he had that presence about him.
He was six foot two and I’m only five foot eight so I had to look up to him! But the great thing was he was always pleasant and yet on the park you could see immediately he was a true professional.
He had everything in his locker – height, build, attitude and Jock made him captain at a very young age because he was a leader.
All 12 players in that team looked up to Billy.
It’s a deeply sad day for anyone who has an emotional connection to Celtic, but it’s also allowed time for everyone to celebrate the mammoth achievements of the man they called Cesar.
Winning 31 trophies as a captain or manager with the club, his legacy is unique and one which will likely never be bettered considering the heights he led the Hoops to both at home and abroad.
The stories of Auld, McNeill and the rest of the Lisbon Lions have been passed on to our generation and in turn we’ll pass them on to those who come after us.