‘Lisbon Lions’ captain McNeill dies aged 79

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Among the Celtic stars of past and present to pay homage to the club stalwart was Lurgan-born Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who said Mr McNeill was "our greatest ever captain and one of our greatest ever players".

Former Gers striker Sir Alex Ferguson, who succeeded McNeill as Aberdeen manager in 1978, told the Celtic website: "He was a giant in Scottish football, a man with an incredible presence and I'll always cherish the fact that we entered professional football at the same time".

"He passed away late [Monday] night surrounded by his family and loved ones". He suffered from Dementia for a number of years and fought bravely to the end, showing the strength and fortitude he always has done throughout his life. McNeill's return brought instant success, with a league title clinched with a 4-2 victory over Rangers on the final day of the season, and two others would follow in his five-year spell as manager, though by the early 80s he was disillusioned and frustrated at the way the club was being run by chairman Desmond White. He steered the club to runners-up spots in the league and Scottish Cup but after only 11 months, again urged by Stein (now in charge of Scotland), he returned to Celtic as manager.

"He was the captain of the first team to win the European Cup".

Tributes have been paid to the man Celtic fans called Cesar. The wider football family, too, will be in mourning at the loss of this great man.

"I, like everyone in Scotland today, is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Billy McNeill", the former United boss said.

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He is survived by his wife Liz, their children, Susan, Paula, Libby, Carol and Martyn and grandchildren.

Stints at Manchester City and Aston Villa were not so fruitful but he returned to Parkhead in time for Celtic's centenary year in 1987/88, ensuring the celebrations ended with a bang as the Hoops claimed a league and cup double. Everyone at Manchester City would like to send our honest condolences to Billy's family.

"He was a great man and at this sad time my thoughts are with Liz and her family".

Nicholas was among many former colleagues and opponents who spoke warmly of the most successful captain in Celtic's history following his death at the age of 79.

"He was our greatest ever captain and one of our greatest ever players, and along with his team-mates, achieved historic things for Celtic in the 1960s and '70s. It's the flawless image of him, holding aloft the European Cup, and it will remind future generations of supporters of what a great Celtic man he was".

The footballing world came together to mourn the death of former Celtic captain and manager Bill McNeill. Billy was, quite simply, an icon of Scottish football - a natural leader who, though synonymous with Celtic, was respected throughout the entire Scottish footballing fraternity.

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