If only more people were like Billy McNeill – leader comment

Billy McNeill leads out Celtic for the 1967 European Cup final in Lisbon
Billy McNeill leads out Celtic for the 1967 European Cup final in Lisbon
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When Billy McNeill led the Lisbon Lions onto the pitch for the 1967 European Cup final, ball under his arm, it was obvious he meant business. Here was a real leader, a born captain. Destiny was waiting.

McNeill, who has passed away at the age of 79, became the first Briton to lift the cup after Celtic defeated Inter Milan 2-1, the pinnacle of a trophy-littered career as both a player and a manager.

Such success would have gone to the heads of many lesser footballers, but not McNeill, who had the calm confidence of a real winner and yet was modest about his considerable achievements.

It is often said that no one is as big as the club but in a way, despite Celtic’s considerable size, McNeill almost was.

READ MORE: Aidan Smith: I’ll never forget the first time I saw Billy McNeill

Such fulsome tributes are sometimes given glibly following a sporting star’s death, but it is absolutely true in his case. This was a man who won universal respect because of his qualities as a player, a captain and a human being.

If only more people, in football and beyond, were like him. He was a person to aspire to be like. We have lost a genuinely great Scot.

READ MORE: How Celtic legend Billy McNeill got his ‘Cesar’ nickname