Lisbon Lion reunited with winner’s medal 52 years after victory

John Fallon with his medal. Picture: SNSJohn Fallon with his medal. Picture: SNS
John Fallon with his medal. Picture: SNS
It is a priceless memento from one of Scottish football’s most revered triumphs, but for more than half a century, one of Celtic’s Lisbon Lions had all but given up hope of ever seeing his winner’s medal from the club’s greatest ever win.

But now, John Fallon, an unsung member of the squad which defeated Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup final, has been reunited with his prize.

The former goalkeeper, who made 192 appearances for Celtic, was an unused substitute during the club’s historic 2-1 victory over the Italian side.

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Though he was the only member of the squad not to take to the field in Lisbon’s Estádio Nacional, he was given a medal by the late Billy McNeill at a post-match dinner.

But what should have been a keepsake for Fallon and his family was taken away from him in controversial circumstances.

According to his autobiography, published in 2015, the club’s manager, Jock Stein, asked for his medal back. Fallon was then presented with a replica, while the real medal ended up with Sir Robert Kelly’s Celtic’s chairman.

It was, Fallon observed, a “bizarre and barely believable” episode which reflected badly on those who ran the club at the time.

Some 52 years on, however, it has made amends by reuniting Fallon with the original medal, after it was donated back to the club by an unknown owner.

Fallon, now 78, was a special guest at the club’s game against Kilmarnock at the weekend, where he was presented with the medal once again – this time by Celtic’s chief executive, Peter Lawwell.

Amid the sadness of two of his Lisbon team-mates – McNeill and Stevie Chalmers – passing away recently, it proved to be a happy occasion.

“It feels great to be reunited with my medal, and I’ve got to thank Peter Lawwell and everyone at Celtic for going to all this effort and finding the medal that was lost,” he said.

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“I did get a replica one at one point, but it didn’t seem the same. It was such a surprise, I got a phone call about a month ago telling me that Peter wished to see me.

“He told me the story of how the medal had been found, so I was very proud to receive it and it adds to the collection.”

Fallon, from Blantyre, said he will never forget the celebrations at full-time as McNeill lifted the trophy.

He recalled: “We were wading through scores of fans to get off the park and into the dressing-room. It’s such a great memory. We’ll never forget it and it’s something everyone should be proud of.”