Neil Lennon and Peter Lawwell react to Celtic legend Billy McNeill's passing

By David Walton

April 23, 2019

Celtic icon Billy McNeill’s passing has sparked a massive reaction across the Hoops family.

The Parkhead legend passed away aged 79 last night. The Hoops confirmed the devastating news on social media this morning, and everyone has been quick to give their love to the greatest ever Celtic captain.

Cesar’s passing has united Scottish football on a dark day. A footballing legend of the highest regard, McNeill was just as classy off the pitch as he was on it.

And today, both Neil Lennon and Peter Lawell gave their reactions to the news on the official Celtic website. First off, let’s have a quick look at some of Neil’s most touching words.

Billy McNeill’s memory lives on through his iconic statue at Celtic Park (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“When you think of Celtic and our incredible history, Billy McNeill is always one of the first names that comes to mind. He was our greatest ever captain and one of our greatest ever players, and along with his team-mates, achieved historic things for Celtic in the 1960s and ’70s.

“I love Billy’s statue, which is the first thing you see whenever you walk up The Celtic Way. It’s the perfect image of him, holding aloft the European Cup, and it will remind future generations of supporters of what a great Celtic man he was.

“This is more than a club, with Celtic known throughout the world, and it is because of people like Billy McNeill that this is the case. He was a giant of the game, a true Celtic legend and someone that we will all miss.”

A hole that will never truly be filled

Given McNeill’s incredible success at Parkhead, the hole he left won’t be filled. All talk of a title-race, the managerial situation, and everything else is forgotten. Nobody cares. This news has rocked us in ways we didn’t think possible.

Lennon’s comments on the McNeill statue are just so fitting. It’s extremely suitable that the first face you see walking up the Celtic Way is Cesar’s. It was he who put this club on the map by leading the Bhoys of 1967 to European Cup success. Every time you walk up the Celtic Way, you’re reminded of his giant-like aura through the iconic statue.

McNeill also managed Manchester City (David Cannon/Allsport/Getty Images)

It’s a fitting reminder of the legacy that Billy leaves behind. A legacy that has allowed Celtic to go on and dominate Scottish football. A legacy that, when you strip it back, won’t ever be rivaled again.

Lawwell was the first to react to the news this morning. Here’s a look at what the Chief Executive had to say:

“We lost a great Celtic man”

“We have lost a great Celtic man with the passing of Billy McNeill, and I would first of all like to pass on my condolences on behalf of the club to Billy’s wife, Liz, their children, Susan, Paula, Libby, Carol and Martyn, and their grandchildren at this very sad time. Their loss is a deep and profound one, and I know that everyone, regardless of their football allegiance, will be sending their thoughts and prayers to Billy’s family.

“It has also been one of the great privileges of my life that, over the years, I got to meet and know Billy, not just as a great Celt, but also as a great man and someone I was delighted to call a friend. His presence on a matchday here at Celtic Park, where he would cheer on the team, was always a great opportunity to meet up with him, and it was also an indication that he always was, before everything else, a Celtic supporter, faithful through and through.

“It is often said that you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but with Billy, as with all the Lisbon Lions, meeting them has always been a wonderful experience. They have remained humble men, regardless of their incredible achievements as Celtic players, embodying everything that is good and positive about Celtic Football Club.”

To read the full statement from Lawwell, click here.

To read the full statement from Lennon, click here.