Celtic hero Billy McNeill is to be handed a prestigious award by La Liga side Athletic Bilbao in recognition of the club legend’s faithful service to the Scottish club throughout his playing career.
The ‘One Club Man Award’ was instituted four years ago with the sole aim of honouring footballers whose entire career with one club represents the values of responsibility, loyalty, commitment, respect and sportsmanship, which embody their identity as a football club.
In picking to honour Billy McNeill, the Basque side recognise the contribution the player known as “Cesar” has made at Parkhead.
During Billy’s active football career, which started in 1957 and ended in the summer of 1975, he played 790 matches competitively for the Scottish champions, more than any other footballer in the history of the club, and netted 34 goals.
He captained the side to nine Premiership league titles consecutively, seven Scottish Cups titles and six League Cups succes, he also won the European Cup in 1967, when the Hoops defeated Serie A giants Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon to become the very first European champions from Britain.
Billy would later return to Celtic Park for two successful stint as boss, while in the year 2009 he became the clubb’s first ambassador.
Presentation of the ‘One Club Man trophy’ will be made in the Scottish City of Glasgow by an Athletic football club representative that includes former shot stopper Jose Angel Iribar and member of the Spanish club’s board Aitor Bernardo.
Former recipients of the prestigious award have included FC Barcelona legend Carles Puyol, Bayern Munich safe hand Sepp Maier, former AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini and Southampton attacker Matt Le Tissier.
Celtic Chief Ian Bankier said the award is a great recognition for the player and recognises the superb contribution he made to the Scottish club over so many seasons.
Billy was a towering figure in the great club’s history, and his achievements at the club form a noteworthy legacy which everyone ah Parkhead will always be thankful for.