CELTIC legend Danny McGrain celebrates his 72nd birthday today.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, Davie Hay, the inspirational right-back’s former team-mate and manager, told author Alex Gordon, who co-wrote his 2009 autobiography, ‘The Quiet Assassin‘: “It was a pleasure to play alongside Danny as much as it was an honour to be his team boss.
“Danny was, of course, part of the Quality Street Gang when we started off with the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Lou Macari, George Connelly, Paul Wilson and Vic Davidson as company as we tried to gatecrash Jock Stein’s great side.
THOUGH SHALT NOT PASS…Danny McGrain blocks off Hibs dangerman Alan Gordon.
“Right from the start, you could see he was a dedicated professional. He worked extremely hard to achieve what came his way.
“Danny trained hard, played hard and always looked after himself. Undoubtedly, he was a model pro.
“I will always remember the part he played in one of our goals against St Mirren when we won 5-0 at Love Street to lift the title on goal difference from Hearts on the last day of the 1985/86 season.
“I’ve said it often enough, if that goal had been scored by Brazil we would have been watching it on TV reruns on a regular basis.
“That was a memorable day in the history of Celtic Football Club and Danny more than deserved all the success that came his way. I wish him all the best on his big day.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT…Danny McGrain with Alex Gordon at the launch of the author’s tribute book to Billy McNeill.
Alex, who has written fifteen Celtic books, added: “I have interviewed Danny many times over the years for a variety of publications – books, newspapers and magazines – and he has always been most helpful.
“His knowledge of the game is second to none and he always has something interesting to add.
“As a Celtic fan, I always felt reassured when Danny McGrain was in the team. Having said that, it’s hard to believe this young chap is now seventy-two!
“Happy birthday, Danny. On behalf of Celtic fans worldwide, have a wonderful and enjoyable occasion.”
For the record, McGrain spent over 20 years at the Hoops and made 663 appearances. Only Billy McNeill (790), Paul McStay (677) and Roy Aitken (672) have played more times for the club.
He won seven championships, five Scottish Cups and two League Cups and rates the 5-0 victory over St Mirren 34 years ago as one of his favourite games.
HAMPDEN HERO…Danny McGrain with Alfie Conn after Celtic’s 1-0 win over Rangers in the 1977 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden.
McGrain was a defender first and foremost and would never be famous for his goalscoring exploits. He netted a total of eight in his two decades!
On the international front, he represented Scotland 62 times and played in the World Cup Finals in West Germany in 1974 where the country returned home from the group section, despite not losing a game.
McGrain teamed up with Dalglish and Hay in a 2-0 win over Zaire and draws against Brazil (0-0) and Yugoslavia (1-1). The Scots lost out on goal difference to the Brazilians.
However, Danny McGrain will always be remembered as a winner.