TRIBUTES have been paid to the former Hibs goalkeeper Willie Wilson, who died this week following major heart surgery.
Wilson was signed by the Easter Road side from Musselburgh Windsor, and, despite being plagued by persistent back problems, featured in some of the club’s most famous European nights in the Sixties.
He was at the opposite end of the pitch from the legendary Dino Zoff when Hibs trounced Napoli 5-0 in a Fairs Cup tie in 1967 and also shut out a Real Madrid side boasting Ferenc Puskas in a 2-0 win in 1964.
Former Hibs captain Pat Stanton played with Wilson on those memorable nights and spoke yesterday of how highly the keeper was regarded by his fellow professionals.
Stanton said: "It was very sad to hear of Willie’s death. I’ve seen him quite regularly at Easter Road at home games, and apart from being a good goalkeeper in his time, he was a great guy. I remember when we played Leeds at Elland Road, and Willie made a brilliant double save from Peter Lorimer who had a fantastic shot on him.
"I spoke to Billy Bremner a couple of years later, and he must have played in some great games, but he brought up the subject of the saves and how incredible they were."
The Hibs chairman, Malcolm McPherson, added: "It was with the greatest sadness we learned of Willie’s death.
"We were delighted to see him at Easter Road only a few days ago and he will be sadly missed by everyone."
Wilson was wanted by both Hibs and Hearts, but eventually chose the former. After he hung up his boots he ended up working for the Tynecastle side when Jim Jefferies was manager. Both men hailed from Wallyford and Jefferies said yesterday: "Willie was a terrific man and someone I always looked up to."
Wilson, who attended Hibs’ recent 3-2 UEFA Cup win over AEK Athens, is survived by wife Eleanor, son Billy and daughter Elaine.