Former Celtic manager Gordon Strachan has been remembering the late, great Billy McNeill fondly, as reported by The Daily Record.
The iconic Hoops captain sadly passed away at the age of 79 earlier this week, prompting an outpouring of stories, videos, pictures and memories all about the titanic defender.
McNeill was the manager at Aberdeen who signed Strachan from Dundee 42 years ago, with the latter telling reporters it was an event that changed his life.
As quoted by The Daily Record, he said:
What does Billy McNeill mean to me? The man changed my life.
I mean, I have always believed you make your own way in life but there is no question he was a major contributor to the way mine worked out.
He signed me a couple of days after we got beat 6-1 – Dundee versus Queen of the South. Between him and Mike Jackson they decided to take a chance on me and take me to Aberdeen.
From there when I went to Aberdeen I was absolutely useless and felt like I was letting him down. I mean I was seriously useless. I was one of those guys who got booed whenever his number came up!
But Billy was very strong in the way he supported me and I have never really been able to shake this feeling I let him down.
But here’s the thing about Billy. He then left Aberdeen for Celtic and the first time we played against them at home we beat them 4-1.
But guess who then turned up at my door at six o’clock that night? It was Billy and his wife Liz with a gift for my son Gavin who had just been born.
That sticks in my memory more than anything else. Here was a guy who’d just been beaten 4-1 turning up at my house to deliver a present.
It’s a wonderful story that sums up the fact that McNeill was as great a man off the pitch as he was on it. He had time for everybody – colleagues, teammates, fans, club staff, opponents – a true gentleman in victory or defeat.
That’s the reason while the memory of the European Cup winner will live on for generations to come. He left a legacy in football and at Celtic that is unlikely to be surpassed.
He’s was one of a kind and long may the celebration of his life an achievements continue.