LISBON Lion Tommy Gemmell is to have a statue erected in his honour in Craigneuk.
The Celtic legend, who passed away in March 2017 at the age of 73, will have the £40,000 sculpture constructed to immortalise his extraordinary achievements in football.
The European Cup-winning hero’s widow Mary, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Tommy was proud of his roots in Craigneuk. He worked at Ravenscraig and had to take the bus from here to Glasgow for training, quite often falling asleep and having to run the rest of the way because he missed his stop.
“It’s wonderful that people want to mark Tommy in this way and the site is fitting, overlooking the site of Ravenscraig and the community of Craigneuk.”
A campaign committee was established by local man Martin McCrum who said: “Raising a statue to Tommy is in recognition of a remarkable achievement to a working-class hero who is seen as true inspiration to many.
“Tommy started from humble beginnings and is recognised globally – he was a true leader and is a true inspiration to our community.
“The statue represents achievement and the message is ‘if he can do it you can, too’.
“Tommy was fiercely proud of his Craigneuk roots and nothing would please him more to know he inspired success in his own community and it’s through Tommy’s remarkable life that Lanarkshire can be inspired to great success in the future.
“Tommy’s statue is for everyone and we hope that it won’t be long until we see the next Lanarkshire hero emerge.”
EURO STAR…Tommy Gemmell crashes in the equaliser against Inter Milan with a mighty right-foot shot.
WALLOP…Tommy Gemmell scores the opening goal against Feyenoord in 1970, but the Dutch hit back to win in extra-time.
Craigneuk councillor Kenneth Duffy has been working with the council for some time to secure support for the initiative, with work due to begin shortly on an essay-writing competition with local schools as a means of highlighting Tommy’s life, career and impact to a younger audience.
Once funding is finalised, the statue should be in place in around a year’s time.
Author Alex Gordon, a friend of the Hoops icon for many years and who wrote Tommy Gemmell’s autobiography, ‘All The Best’, added: “Mary told me of the project months ago and she was clearly excited at the prospect.
“Tommy was always fond of telling stories about his childhood and growing up in the Craigneuk community.
“He was a Motherwell fan back then and he used to tell the story of cycling to Fir Park on match day in a bike he had outgrown wit his knees thumping off the handlebars as he made his way to support his local team.
“This is a wonderful gesture and one everyone connected with Tommy will hugely appreciate. It is well deserved, too.”
Gemmell, who was born in his grandmother’s house in Motherwell’s Cumbrae Drive, scored the equalising goal in Celtic’s 2-1 European Cup triumph over Inter Milan in Lisbon on May 25 1967.
He scored another against Feyenoord in Milan three years later, but on this occasion the Hoops were on the receiving end of a 2-1 scoreline.
The flamboyant left-back, who won 18 caps for Scotland, was brought up in Craigneuk and began his career at Coltness United before being signed by the Parkhead club in 1961.
He won six league titles, three Scottish Cups and four League Cups as well as the European Cup in his years at the Hoops.