CELTIC legend Billy McNeill has been honoured with the unveiling of a bronze statue in his hometown of Bellshill.

The tribute was paid to the club’s European Cup-winning captain when his widow Liz and the Billy McNeill Commemoration Committee performed the ceremony in front of a massive crowd in the Lanarkshire town.

The event – which was previewed by CQN during the week – was also attended by McNeill’s former Lisbon Lions team-mates Jim Craig and John Clark along with John Fallon, who had been substitute keeper all the way through the history-making adventure in the extraordinary 1966/67 campaign.

BELLSHILL BHOY…Billy McNeill immortalised in a tribute bronze statue in his hometown. Image courtesy Rosaleen Bonnar (Tel: 079760 31022)

Ex-skippers Tom Boyd and Danny McGrain were there with Centenary Celts Pat Bonner and Frank McAvennie.

There was a nice touch with the attendance of former Rangers captain and manager John Greig, a great rival during the pair’s playing days and as Old Firm team bosses. One-time Ibrox winger Willie Henderson was also there.

The Celtic great is depicted holding the club pennant as he walks onto the pitch before the start of the 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in the Portuguese capital on May 25 1967 when goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers ensured the Hoops became the first British club to conquer Europe.

McNeill died in April 2019 at the age of 79 after being diagnosed with dementia.

During his playing days, he led the Hoops to nine successive titles, seven Scottish Cups and six League Cups. He played 822 games over 18 seasons, before retiring in 1975.

LISBON LEADER…Billy McNeill ushers the Celtic players onto the field for the unforgettable European Cup triumph in the Portuguese capital on May 25 1967.

He also represented Scotland at full international 29 times while making nine appearances for the Scottish League XI.

In two stints as a manager, McNeill guided Celtic to four leagues, three Scottish Cups and one League Cup. He was manager from 1978 to 83 and had  stints at Mnchester City and Aston Villa before returning in 1987 until 91.

He had a brief spell as manager at Clyde before moving to Aberdeen for a season and then returning to succeed Jock Stein.

McNeill was awarded an MBE in November 1974, was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Scottish Football Hall of Fame two years later.

In December 2015, the club unveiled a bronze statue of McNeill holding aloft the European Cup which has pride of place on the Celtic Way.

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