TOMMY GEMMELL was one of the most colourful and charismatic characters in Celtic history.
In another CQN EXCLUSIVE series, author Alex Gordon, a long-time friend of the Lisbon Lion, opens his book files to reveal some tales of the flamboyant full-back.
Alex says: “When I was interviewing Tommy for his autobiography, ‘All The Best‘, which was published by CQN in 2014, he often talked about his friendship with former Manchester United idol George Best.
“Here in the fourth extract from Tommy speaking about the mercurial Northern Irishman.
GEORGE BEST’S professional life must have been in turmoil back on January 27 1971.
But the Northern Ireland legend still made the effort to travel north to play and score for a Rangers/Celtic Select against Scotland in a Benefit Game for the 66 victims of the Ibrox Disaster.
As we were all aware, he had a dreadful habit of going AWOL, but he made sure he was in Glasgow that evening. Just 19 days beforehand, he had gone on a bender and missed the train taking Manchester United through to London for an important game against Chelsea.
He actually caught a later train, but, instead of meeting up with his team, he decided to miss the match and spend the entire weekend at the London apartment of attractive Irish actress Sinead Cusack.
READY TO GO…George Best lines up alongside his fellow-Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton and Celtic great Bobby Murdoch.
Three days later, he was suspended for two weeks by the Old Trafford outfit yet still fulfilled his obligation to turn out for that Old Firm X1.
He was around, too, when the Lisbon Lions toured Ireland as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations. Bestie and Co emulated our feat of becoming the best in Europe when they defeated Benfica 4-1 after extra-time at Wembley in 1968.
Bestie, though, was always full of praise for Celtic’s victory in the Portuguese capital.
“Celtic showed us that it could be done,” he said on numerous occasions.
“Before them, it was thought only clubs like Real Madrid, Benfica or Inter and AC Milan could be European masters. Celtic broke down the barriers and let the others in. The importance of their win in Lisbon should never be overlooked.”
Thanks, Bestie. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss the further adventures of a Celtic legend.