TOMMY GEMMELL, who passed away five years ago today at the age of 73, won 15 medals in a spectacular silverware sweep during a glittering career.
He picked up his first award when played left-back in the Celtic team that beat Dunfermline 3-2 in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden on April 24, 1965.
A crowd of 108,800 witnessed a dramatic confrontation as the Hoops came back twice from a goal down to level through two efforts from Bertie Auld.
Captain Billy McNeill headed in the winner with nine minutes remaining from a Charlie Gallagher corner-kick.
Jock Stein had just taken over as manager from Jimmy McGrory the previous month and it was the club’s first trophy in seven years.
HEAD START…Billy McNeill rises above team-mate Bobby Lennox to thump in the winner in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final against Dunfermline – the beginning of a glorious era for Celtic.
Gemmell also lifted winners’ medals in the same competition when a double from Willie Wallace defeated Aberdeen 2-0 in 1967 and two years later when Stein’s men trounced Rangers 4-0 with McNeill, Bobby Lennox, George Connelly and Stevie Chalmers scoring the goals.
The cavalier-like defender won six successive league titles, the first in 1966 when a late Lennox goal was enough to beat Motherwell and take the flag to the east end of Glasgow for the first time in 12 years.
Gemmell won five League Cup medals and admitted one of them was the most embarrassing victories in his career.
He was victorious twice against Rangers – 2-1 in 1965 and 1-0 the following year – and also 5-3 against Dundee in 67 and 6-2 versus Hibs in 68.
However, Gemmell also won a League Cup medal playing AGAINST Celtic when he skippered Dundee to a shock 1-0 success in 1973.
He told his friend and author Alex Gordon: “Gordon Wallace scored the only goal of the game and, against all the odds, we held on to take the trophy.
“I played centre-half that monsoon afternoon and Big Jock must have noticed my 30-year-old legs were about to give way.
“He put on Jimmy Johnstone as a substitute to play right up against me. I was shattered, but it was Dundee’s day and I was relieved when the referee blew for full-time.
LISBON LASH…Tommy Gemmell thunders in the crucial equalising goal against Inter Milan on Celtic’s way to European Cup glory in the Portuguese capital on May 25 1967.
SAN SIRO SCREAMER…Tommy Gemmell thunders in the opening goal in the 1970 European Cup Final against Feyenoord. Alas, there were no celebrations in Milan that evening.
“Then came the tricky bit when, as the team captain, I had to lead the players up the steps to be presented with the silverware.
“Embarrassed? You could say that again! I knew Celtic fans in every row as I passed them on my way up to receive the Cup.
“To be fair, they were applauding me and saying things such as: ‘Well done, Big Tam’ and ‘You deserved it’.
“I was handed the League Cup, shook it above my head and swiftly passed it onto the Dundee player behind me, keeper Thomson Allan. A very strange experience, but the Celtic supporters were brilliant that day.”
Gemmell’s most memorable victory, though, was the stunning 2-1 triumph over Inter Milan in the European Cup Final in Lisbon on May 25, 1967.
The Parkhead side, playing in Europe’s elite tournament for the first time, had reached the showpiece finale against the glamorous Italians after defeating Zurich, Nantes, Vojvodina Novi Sad and Dukla Prague en route to the Portuguese capital.
Sandro Mazzola made it 1-0 via the penalty spot in the seventh minute for the favourites, who had won the trophy twice in the previous three years.
Celtic bombarded their goal without success until the left-back powered an unstoppable right-foot drive high into the roof of the net in the 61st minute for a spectacular equaliser.
Stevie Chalmers notched the winner near the end and they rest as, they say, is history.