This morning, the McNeill family sadly announced the death of Celtic club legend Billy McNeill, who passed away at the age of 79.
Too often on social media, we see the ‘thoughts and prayers’ messages, sad face emojis and general insincerity displayed when this type of news is posted.
Today, however, there is a sincere feeling of sadness as one of the most decorated footballers in Scottish football history is no longer with us.
Billy McNeill spent his last hours surrounded by his family and loved ones closest to him, who had no doubt been a tremendous source of strength for him while he was fighting a battle with the bastard of a disease that is dementia.
I had no personal ties to Billy McNeill, and I believe there is only one photo of me as a child with the man himself, but the story that does stick out about him from that particular rainy day at the old Barrowfield training complex is that he was more than happy to pose for a picture with a bawling, greeting faced wean (yes, me) while certain other members of the club, who shall not be named out of respect, where fairly ignorant about getting a photo taken with me. I don’t blame them in a way, because to be in any form of image with me at any age would probably see their transfer value plummet, but Billy McNeill took the time to get it over and done with and that says enough about the character of the man.
Nine Scottish league championships, seven Scottish cups, six league cups and of course, the European cup. Staggering honours for a player, and he excelled as a manager as well, winning eight trophies over his two spells as manager of Celtic.
I’m sure that over the next few days we’ll see many tributes and nice messages from all within the Scottish footballing community, ranging from lowlife bloggers such as myself, to respected journalists, but the general point remains the same:
Rest in peace, Billy. You were a giant, and always will be.