BILLY McNEILL is prepared for an emotional day when his statue is unveiled outside Celtic Park on Saturday.
The 75-year-old club legend will take part in the ceremony on the Celtic Way ahead of the game against Motherwell.
McNeill, the Hoops’ greatest-ever captain, played 790 times for the team, winning nine successive titles, seven Scottish Cups, six League Cups and leading them to the historic European Cup Final triumph over Inter Milan in Lisbon on May 25 1967.
The statue will be in close proximity to that of club founder Brother Walfrid, iconic manager Jock Stein and Jimmy Johnstone, voted the Greatest-Ever Celtic player in 2002.
McNeill said: “I am sure Saturday will be a fantastic day for myself and my family, if somewhat emotional.
“I have said this before, but when Peter Lawwell contacted me regarding the statue I was completely taken by surprise and to now think that I will be honoured alongside such great men as Brother Walfrid, Jock Stein and my pal Jinky, really does fill me with great pride.
“Celtic has been in my blood and a part of my life for so many years and to be recognised in this way by the club I love is truly humbling.
“Myself and my wife Liz have already seen the statue and we think it is magnificent. I asked John the sculptor to make me as handsome as possible.
“I would like to thank everyone for the best wishes they have sent me in relation to Saturday. It is a day I am really looking forward to.”
Celtic Chief Executive Lawwell said: “No player has made more appearances for Celtic than Billy McNeill – an incredible total of 790 – and that is testament, not only to his dedication and devotion to the green and white hoops, but also an indication of his ability and value to the team.
“He was Jock Stein’s captain and he led the team on the park to an extraordinary era of success, both in Scotland and in Europe, culminating in that incredible triumph on May 25, 1967 when Celtic became the Kings of Europe.
“Yet, despite all the success he enjoyed as a player, and later as manager, Billy, like his fellow-Lisbon Lions, has remained a humble man who always sees himself, first and foremost, as a Celtic supporter.
“I have had the honour and privilege of knowing Billy for many years now, and while there is sometimes caution offered in wanting to meet your heroes, in Billy’s case he is everything you would ever expect from Celtic’s greatest-ever captain, and so much more, and every supporter who has met Billy over the years, whether at Celtic Park or at supporters’ functions, would also testify to that.
“Billy’s statue will stand at the beginning of the Celtic Way, proud and imposing – just as Billy was as a player – to welcome visitors to our stadium, and I am delighted to be part of this very special occasion.”
Meanwhile CQN will be in the Kerrydale Suite before the match on Saturday with Tom Boyd and Yogi Bear signing copies of Caesar & The Assassin and/or The Winds of Change. Billy was not only a great player but a magnificent manager for Celtic. The Centenary Double will live long in our hearts.
You can order both these books now at www.cqnbookstore.com and until midnight tonight all orders of The Winds of Change will receive a FREE copy of the Total Larsson DVD.
We have under 100 copies of Caesar & The Assassin left. If you want to own a copy of this very special book you will need to hurry. Plus there’s £5 off and on all orders until midnight tonight we will add a free copy of the Cesar DVD! Order HERE.