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Brendan Rodgers pays tribute to Tommy Gemmell - 'forerunner of the modern-day full-back'

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers claimed Tommy Gemmell was the forerunner of the modern-day full-back as he paid tribute to the Lisbon Lion.

The former Hoops left-back, who scored in two European Cup finals, died aged 73 on Thursday morning after a long illness.

Gemmell levelled the scores in Celtic's famous 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in Lisbon in 1967, when they became the first British club to win the European Cup.

Ahead of the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against St Mirren at Celtic Park on Sunday, Rodgers said: "It was a sad, sad day for everyone connected with the club.

"Firstly, a truly brilliant player. Maybe a lot of football people in the south maybe wouldn't recognise what Tommy Gemmell was.

"If you talk about the modern-day full-back getting forward and attacking, Tommy Gemmell was that in the 1960s.

"There are not too many full-backs (that) score in two European Cup finals.

"He went on to play over 400 games for Celtic and lived his life as a Lisbon Lion and regarded that role as a real ambassador of honour for the club and until his last breath Celtic was in his heart so he is someone who will never be forgotten.

"His family will always be welcome at Celtic.

"I never had the great fortune to meet him but if he is like any of the other Lisbon Lions I have met, they are really humble guys who set this club on a path to what it is today which is one of the great clubs in the world and, but for Tommy and guys like him, Celtic wouldn't be the iconic club it is.

"So our condolences with his family and we will pay that respect at the game on Sunday."

Former Celtic manager and captain Neil Lennon mourned the loss of a "real character" so close to the 50th anniversary of the Parkhead club's greatest triumph.

The Hibernian head coach said: "I knew he wasn't well for quite a substantial period of time but it's still a shock and a big loss.

"I was very fond of Tommy, he was very good to me in my time as a player and a manager, so I was really upset with the news. It's another one of that great team that's gone, particularly in this significant year as well.

"He was a fantastic player and a real character, as they all are in their own way. I'm really sorry for his family and I'm sorry to lose him.

"He always had a quip and he liked a wee singsong as well sometimes. He was always quite sharp upstairs. It was before my time but he was a fantastic player as well.

"And all the Lions, they have this exuberance and confidence that has come from having such a fantastic career and being a special team.

"I'm sorry to see another one of them go because they are special personalities."


From Belfast Telegraph