Wednesday 26 April 2017

Strachan leads tributes for legendary Lisbon Lion Gemmell

Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell Picture: PA
Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell Picture: PA

Ronnie Esplin

Celtic great Bertie Auld feels like he has lost a family member following the death of fellow Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell.

Gemmell has died aged 73, leaving seven surviving members of the first British team to win the European Cup.

The Motherwell-born left-back, who scored in two European Cup finals, was one of a famous group of players all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park who shocked Inter Milan and the football world in the Portuguese capital in 1967.

Auld said: "We are one. A family. Just like the Celtic support. We are a family in the dressing-room.

"We brought happiness and entertainment to the terraces, and I know that Tommy was one of their big favourites."

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell recalled how Gemmell and the rest of Jock Stein's side, which dominated Scottish football and became a European power, laid the foundations for the modern-day Parkhead club.

He said: "One of the privileges of my job is that you get to meet your heroes and Tommy was certainly one of them. He was very supportive when I took this job on, a very humble man and he didn't let you down as a hero.

"That team inspired me- the underdog, 11 local lads, a unique achievement for Celtic and Scotland. It is the basis of the modern-day Celtic. Jock Stein, the Lisbon Lions and everything we have done since then. And that is our aspiration, to get there again and try to match that."

Tribute

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, who played under Gemmell when he was Dundee manager, also paid tribute.

The former Celtic boss said in a statement: "Tommy was a joy to watch on the pitch, and as a pioneer of the attacking full-back role was years ahead of his time.

"Throughout his career he earned the respect and admiration of his fellow professionals and fans alike, and his contributions to Scottish football cannot be overstated."

The news came following confirmation over the weekend that Lions captain Billy McNeill has dementia.

Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie said: "It has been a horrible week all round, really, with the news about Billy as well and now Tommy - two great men.

"I remember the Lions when they were playing. I was only a wee boy but I got to know them through the years when I played for Celtic and it was great.

"I was on a couple of trips with Tommy and his knowledge of the game was incredible. He will be sadly missed at Celtic Park."

Rangers joined Gemmell's former clubs Dundee, Nottingham Forest and Albion Rovers in passing on their condolences.

Irish Independent

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