Heart of a Lion, the autobiography of Lisbon Lion, Willie Wallace, went to print this morning and will be out the day before the Cup Final. It is a joy.
Willie starts with a remarkable 17 days in April 1967 when the takes us through five games, Dukla Prague, home and away, in the semi-final of the European Cup, England v Scotland at Wembley, a tense league encounter with Aberdeen and the Scottish Cup final. Before you get into the substance which made the man, or his more famous achievements which were to follow the next month, you are immersed in sense of possibility, of sheer wonder, and of incredibly hard games of football, that encapsulated these times.
His story is genuinely unique, being the only Lisbon Lion Jock Stein went out of his way to buy, for good reason. His pace was unparalleled in the game. His scoring rate at Hearts was excellent but at Celtic he outperformed his peers – and that was an incredible team of peers.
We learn a valuable insight into how a team who had won nothing in seven years before Jock Stein’s arrival were transformed and swept all before them. Willie gets right into the detail of tactics and preparation.
The Great Event is there in all its intricate detail. Neil Lennon should make every player in the squad read it before Champions League duty commences next season. It would inspire the most desolate soul.
Willie asked CQN to publish the book, which we did. There are contributions from our own Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan, who believe me, does not disappoint. Close friend of Jock Stein, and the most influential broadcaster in Scottish football history, Archie MacPherson, wrote a chapter giving historical context to this extraordinary career. Archie’s range and insight is priceless.
We tentatively asked our very own A-lister, Rod Stewart, if he would write the foreward. Willie has been away from Scotland for a long time, a lot of football has been played since, and Rod’s been busy in the intervening years, but he was delighted to be asked. Rod explains his father’s Hibernian roots and through his “star-struck eyes” tells us Willie “might as well have had a four-leaf clover as a heart”.
Rod finished by saying “Bless you, Mr Wallace”, which I’ll echo. I can’t tell you the sheer joy it’s been in participating in this project. My enormous thanks, Willie.
You can order online NOW by clicking below. Willie is coming over this month and we’re getting a pile of books signed by him, so fill your boots.