If only more people were like Billy McNeill – leader comment

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.

Billy McNeill leads out Celtic for the 1967 European Cup final in Lisbon

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.

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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.

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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.