• STV
  • MySTV

Billy McNeill remembered: 'He was just entirely splendid'

Renowned writer and football commentator Archie Macpherson pays tribute to the Celtic legend.

Renowned football commentator Archie Macpherson has paid tribute to "magnificent" Celtic legend Billy McNeill.

The first British man to lift the European Cup in 1967 died on Monday aged 79 after a battle with dementia.

Speaking on Scotland Tonight, Macpherson said: "He played for the jersey. That was his utmost ambition, to make that jersey successful and he did just that."

Talking to presenter John MacKay, the veteran broadcaster shared his stories and memories of the Lisbon Lion.

Archie: Well, he read the game brilliantly. And he also dovetailed when John Clark played beside him and it was a wonderful combination. He had not enough caps for Scotland. And perhaps it was because many players play at a club level, at a certain level and a certain quality because they know the players around them and maybe the international scene at times just didn't suit his particular play. He was magnificent in the air. I mean he was just entirely splendid.

Sometimes we forget some of the moments that pushed Celtic to Lisbon. For example, the glittering sunshine of Lisbon and the triumph and the raising of the cup sometimes makes us forget those darker, murkier moments. For example, with two minutes to go, even less than that, at Parkhead, I was sitting on top of the Jungle and our commentary position thinking, 'Celtic are about to slip here'. Playing against Beaujolais Dena, Jock Stein sitting in the dugout beside Sean Fallon and I actually turned to Sean and said, 'there's going to be damn well Rotterdam', which is what we're going to do if the game ended an aggregate draw.

Watch: Bernard Ponsonby's obituary to Billy McNeill

https://player.stv.tv/episode/3rxm/scotland-tonight/ | default

Suddenly a corner-kick was taken on the right wing, I always remember only too well and in he came. He simply powered the ball into the net in a typical Billy McNeill header. That single goal and that single moment, coming as it did towards the end of the game when it seemed always laws changed the whole era for Celtic. Had he not scored at that time he would have gone to Rotterdam. Heaven only knows what would have happened then.

So that single moment by that man leading by example, if you could put it that way, got Celtic through to Lisbon eventually.

Scottish football legend, Billy McNeill.
Scottish football legend, Billy McNeill.

John: It was an iconic moment probably the iconic moment in Scottish Cup football, Billy McNeill holding aloft the European Cup and he had the stature to do that. That is an iconic image.

Archie: Exactly two people have been asking me why he was captain, well he looked a captain. He was a handsome guy as I've said previously you can be pug ugly and still be a good footballer but he just had all he had these matinee idol looks, blondish, tanned. Impressive in that way, the way he held himself very straight backed, the way he played the game and consequently that commanding posture. He had that presence, the aura that sometimes you can't explain to people but it commands attention.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.