Mon. Sep 16th, 2019

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Plans to erect a statue of Celtic great Billy McNeill in Bellshill have been revealed.

2 min read

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Plans to erect a statue of Celtic great Billy McNeill in Bellshill have been revealed.

The news follows the Lisbon Lion’s death in April, following a long struggle with dementia.

As reported on Football Scotland , a community-driven public meeting was held at the Joe McKay Community Centre, with the newly appointed Billy McNeill Commemoration Committee aiming to honour the man in his North Lanarkshire hometown.

Committee members discussed the monument, understood to have £15,000 in funding from North Lanarkshire Council, as marking a sporting hero and “putting Bellshill on the map … to inspire future generations of young sports people”.

Another public meeting has been called for August 15, and will follow further discussions for the commemoration committee on how best to honour Billy McNeill.

The Lisbon Lion, or ‘Cesar’, was born in Bellshill in 1940 And educated at Our Ladies High School in Motherwell.

He joined Celtic in 1961, but it wasn’t until Jock Stein came on board in March 1965 that McNeill became the ‘heart’ of the Hoops’ defence.

Then came 1966/1967, when McNeill formed part of a side that, domestically, dominated Scottish football by winning all of the competitions they entered into, before they achieved the holy grail of European football, in lifting the European Cup.

In what was a club record 69th game of the season, McNeill led Celtic to a 2-1 victory in Lisbon against the much-fancied Helenio Herrara’s Inter Milan side to claim the trophy.

A victory that, for McNeill, only really sunk in on Celtic’s return to Scottish soil, telling UEFA in 2013 how the sight of fans lining the streets from the airport to Celtic Park “made us realise that what we had achieved was wonderful”.

Thousands of fans lined the streets of Glasgow for his funeral back in April, saying a fond farewell to one of Scotland’s football legends – and it’s possible the same well-wishers will pay a visit to Bellshill soon to remember him once again.

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