BRENDAN RODGERS agrees with Neil Lennon that Celtic should consider retiring the number 5 jersey in honour of Billy McNeill.

The Hoops interim manager put forward the idea as he gave an emotional tribute to the Lisbon Lion who sadly passed away on Monday evening at the age of 79 following his battle with dementia.

McNeill wore the number 5 on his shorts as the Parkhead men, led by the iconic Jock Stein, conquered Europe in 1967 and won nine successive league titles from 1966 onwards.

Lennon took over from Rodgers in February when the former Liverpool gaffer left to take over at Leicester City.

However, the ex-Hoops chief, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Neil has got a point and you see it with those clubs around the world with iconic figures.

“It is a sad day when you are aware of Billy’s history as a player and a manager.

“He was the spirit and heartbeat of an iconic team – the Lisbon Lions, the first team in Britain to win the European Cup and he was the leader of that team.

“He was an iconic symbol for Celtic supporters growing up who played for the team and went on to manage them.

“Like Celtic do, the football club are absolutely brilliant looking after the families of the legends.

“I was fortunate to have met Billy when I was there and his legacy was pretty clear.”

Celtic will have a 67-second round of applause from the supporters around Paradise for McNeill before tomorrow afternoon’s Premiership encounter with Kilmarnock where three points will edge them closer to an eighth successive crown.

It promises to be a highly emotional day in the east end of Glasgow and the players are anxious to honour the club’s former manager and captain with a performance befitting his memory.


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