Archbishop 'tried to secure knighthoods for Celtic and Rangers legends'

John Greig, left, with Billy McNeill in 2009John Greig, left, with Billy McNeill in 2009
John Greig, left, with Billy McNeill in 2009
The Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh attempted to secure knighthoods for legendary Celtic and Rangers captains Billy McNeill and John Greig, it has been reported.

Leo Cushley told STV he felt the Lisbon Lions captain deserved the honour before his death earlier this year.

The Archbishop, who was appointed in July 2013, said the idea had come to him as he attended the Lisbon Lions' 50th anniversary celebrations as a guest of Celtic.

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Revealing that McNeill's health was failing as he made the nomination, Archbishop Cushley - who got the club and Lord Provost of Glasgow to back the move - added: "Billy was more diminished in his health and it seemed to me that it was perhaps a useful opportunity at that time for him to receive such an honour.

"It would have completed something that has warmed the hearts of many people in Celtic Football Club and beyond."

McNeill won just shy of 40 major honours as a player and manager with Celtic, and remains one of the club's most successful icons.

He was made an MBE in 1974 and was honoured by Basque side Athletic Bilbao, who bestowed upon him their prestigious "One Club Man" award.

Archbishop Cushley claims that the Old Firm rivalry in Glasgow prompted him to seek some symmetry, and so he proposed a similar honour for McNeill's Rangers counterpart John Greig.

The Archbishop added: "John Greig was also a very distinguished sportsman and I thought there would be some symmetry about that.

"Both these men are great heroes to their respective communities and football clubs," he added.

Greig could yet be knighted - the honours system can take a while.

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