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Billy McNeill's family request a celebration of 'noise and passion' at Celtic Park to honour legend

 

Celtic legend: tributes to Billy McNeill, who died on Tuesday, are seen outside Celtic Park yesterday
Celtic legend: tributes to Billy McNeill, who died on Tuesday, are seen outside Celtic Park yesterday

By Andy Newport

Billy McNeill's family have urged the Celtic support to honour the club's former skipper and manager in the way he would have wanted - with "noise, passion and enjoyment".

The Parkhead outfit have outlined their plans to celebrate the life of the first British man to ever lift the European Cup when they host Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Neil Lennon and his first-team squad plan to lay a wreath below the statue of the late defender, who died at the age of 79 on Monday, outside Celtic Park prior to the 12.30pm kick-off.

Special video tributes will be played on the stadium's screens, while the players will also wear special black armbands.

But instead of the traditional moment of silence, club chiefs say there will instead be a minute's applause before the game following a request from McNeill's loved ones.

In a statement posted on the club's website, his family said: "We do not believe football stadiums were ever built to be silent. Our father would not have wanted that. They should be places of noise, passion and enjoyment.

"Football was his life and Celtic Park was a very large part of that. So please celebrate his life with a moment of cheers, songs and applause because that would make him feel at home again."

Further tributes are also planned for the William Hill Scottish Cup final with Hearts on May 25, with club chiefs announcing they will send out the entire Hoops team wearing McNeill's iconic number five shorts at Hampden.

Meanwhile, former Celtic star Kenny Dalglish has revealed how the "wonderful education" he received from a man know affectionately as 'Cesar' during his early days at Parkhead helped put him on the road to his own moment of European glory.

Paying tribute to McNeill, Dalglish said: "My condolences go out to Billy's family and their loved ones. Marina and I are deeply saddened by the news as we have known the family for the best part of 50 years.

"I count myself as being extremely privileged to have been a team-mate of Billy's and also his friend. He was an inspirational leader on the pitch but, just as importantly, he offered wise counsel off the pitch.

"I'll never forget how as a 17-year-old I got to train with Billy and other Lisbon Lions in 1968/69. I was in awe.

"They never excluded you from anything, even to the point where Billy would pick me up and take me to training.

"Billy looked after you or made sure you were looked after. He set extremely high standards and others followed that exemplary leadership and kindness.

"Billy taught me how to handle success and be humble. To spend time with the Celtic captain was a wonderful education and stood me in good stead for my professional career and also as a person."

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