'Hail Cesar... Immortal' - Fans, players and clubs pay tribute to Celtic legend Billy McNeill

Billy McNeill is not only a Celtic legend but world football legend. Picture: SNS
Billy McNeill is not only a Celtic legend but world football legend. Picture: SNS

Football fans, players and clubs around the world have been paying tribute to Celtic legend Billy McNeill who has passed away at the age of 79.

The first man to lift the European Cup for a British side has a special place in world football.

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawell, in an emotional tribute on the Celtic website, said today "is the saddest of days for the Celtic Family, and also for the wider football world."

Manager Neil Lennon said: "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.”

The strength of feeling towards the legendary McNeill can be seen by the comments by those he encountered and influenced with former Celtic player Virgil van Dijk one of the first to reply to the news, tweeting a praying emoji in response to the news on Twitter.

@CelticFC: "The #CelticFC Family is mourning the death of Billy McNeill, the club’s greatest ever captain and one of the finest men to have played and managed the Hoops, who has passed away at the age of 79. Rest in peace, Cesar. You’ll Never Walk Alone."

@JohnHartson10: "Sad news the Great Billy Mcneill has passed away.. a true Giant of the game, Leader and inspirational figure.. RIP Big Man thoughts are with the Mcneill family at this sad time."

@TonyCurran69: "Sad news indeed.... A giant of the game and of our Club! Rest In Peace Ceaser! #Legend #LisbonLion"

@PaddyMcCourt15: "Terribly sad news today regarding Billy McNeill ‘ without doubt one of the most inspirational Celtic players of all time.I would meet him occasionally in and around Celtic Park & he was always the gentleman.Thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends. Rest In Peace Billy"

@AberdeenFC: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our former manager, Billy McNeill who has passed away at the age of 79."

@HibernianFC: "Everyone at Easter Road was saddened to hear of the passing of Billy McNeill, who spent a short time at Hibs as mentor to then-manager Jim Duffy."

@JamTarts: "Everyone at Heart of Midlothian Football Club was saddened to hear of the passing of Billy McNeill; one of Scottish football's all-time greats. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time."

@ManCity: "We are sad to learn of the passing of Billy McNeill who managed the Club between 1983-86. Everyone at Manchester City would like to send our sincere condolences to Billy's family."

@Cairney2: "Heartbroken over the passing of my great friend and captain Billy McNeill. A huge blow for the Celtic family but a devastating loss for Liz, Susan Libby Carol, Paula and Martyn. My thoughts and prayers are with them today. RIP my friend."

@NeilSimmy8: "Sad news. Billy signed me for Aberdeen and I’m forever grateful for his encouragement and words of advice throughout my career when I met him. Great man will be sadly missed."

@andrewrobertso5: "One of the all time greats! A legend of the game, Rest in peace."

@FIFAcom: "Billy McNeill, @CelticFC & @ScotlandNT legend, has died at the age of 79. In 1967, he became the first British man to lift the European Cup - one of a staggering 3⃣1⃣ major trophies he won with Celtic as player and manager #RIP"

@Athletic_en: "Athletic Club regrets the passing of @CelticFC legend Billy McNeill and joins the pain of family, friends and the entire emblematic club.#AthleticClub #OneClubMan"

@saintmirrenfc: "All at St Mirren are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of one of Scottish football’s greatest ever players. Our thoughts are with Billy’s family & friends and all at Celtic Football Club."

@MotherwellFC: "A great competitor, local boy and one of Scottish football's best ever. RIP Billy McNeill."

@KilmarnockFC: "Everyone at Kilmarnock FC is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of a Scottish football icon. Our thoughts are with Billy's family and all at Celtic FC at this sad time."

@ARedPOV: "An absolute Goliath of Scottish Football was Billy McNeil and laid the foundations for Aberdeen’s most successful period with the signings of the likes of Strachan. Strode into the dugout in a bright red shirt for his first game in charge of the Dons. Legend."

@AndyMitten: "Researched and spoke to Billy McNeil when ghosting P Crerand's book. They were close. Played side by side (Billy headed & ran, Crerand tackled & passed). Got married a week apart. When Stein signed BM for for Celtic he asked Billy's parents, ‘If he’s cheeky, can I skelp him one?’"

@theredfinal: "Desperately sad to hear of the passing of Billy McNeill. A fine Aberdeen manager who laid a considerable foundation upon which those to follow could build. Still the highest winning percentage of any manager in AFC history."

@Alasdair_Lamont: "Very sad news. A gentleman and a legend."

@JordanC1107: "Terrible news. A truly horrific illness. He is someone who all football fans should have the utmost respect for. What the Lisbon Lions achieved is still one of the best stories in football."

@PeterMsport: "The captain’s captain. RIP Billy McNeill. #Greatestever"

@HumzaYousaf: "Word legend often over-used but in this context it hardly seems adequate. Sad news of Billy McNeill's passing, he was a true giant of the game. Immortalised by that iconic image of him lifting the European Cup. He also spoke bravely about his battle with dementia."

@williamsonkev: "Sad to hear this. A Scottish football legend who, holding that huge piece of European silverware in his hands - along with Muhammad Ali, Neil Armstrong & The Beatles - seemed to epitimise the optimism of the 60s for so many w/class Scots. RIP Billy McNeill"

@PeterAdamSmith: "The first British player to lift the European Cup has died. Billy ‘Caesar’ McNeill MBE captained Celtic through the club’s most successful era and then twice managed the club he loved, winning 31 major trophies. He suffered from dementia in the years before his death. He was 79. I lived near ‘Big Caesar’ McNeill growing up and he always found time to stop and chat to anyone - the kids and the adults, the ones in Celtic tops and the ones in Rangers tops. A gentleman from another era in Scottish football where mutual respect and admiration prevailed."

@fieldgunner12: "Hail Caesar.....Rest in peace big man"

@RaeComm: "Hearing the sad news about Billy McNeill’s passing. In addition to being the ultimate Lisbon Lion, Billy was in demand on TV in the 80s. I was lucky to broadcast a live Scotland game on BBC TV in Saudi Arabia side-by-side with him. A great man. Thoughts with Billy’s family. RIP."

@LeoMoynihan: "A true great. The first Brit to get his hands on Ol big ears, and a king on and off the pitch. Love to his family and to Celtic FC."

@Alan_Burrows: "My condolences to Billy’s family and friends at this sad time. One of Scottish football’s greatest ever players, born and bred in Lanarkshire. Rest in peace, Billy"

@90MinuteCynic: "Captain. Leader. ICON. The Greatest."

@Rangers_FC_1872: "Clearly a Rangers fan but huge respect to Billy McNeill a giant of the Scottish game. He will be missed RIP"

@Roberts1521: "RIP Billy McNeill

A Leader

A Legend

A Gentleman

A Role Model

prayers for all the family"

@BabyBoo4444444: "We’ve lost the most iconic figure in the history of Celtic Football Club. Billy McNeill was Mr Celtic. Thank you for everything you’ve given us as a player, manager and ambassador. May perpetual light shine upon him. RIP Billy."

@MattMcGlone9: "This is devastating & very upsetting.Billy McNeill an absolute Icon of a man & Celt.Pivotal to all Celtic achieved who stood tall in the face of every adversity Celtic faced. One of the most supportive men you could ever meet.God always look after you Billy."

@gerryquiff: "Thanks Billy

You gave us hope

You gave us joy

You gave us memories

Rest in Peace. Hail Hail. YNWA"

@Oneofthebhoys88: "Thoughts and prayers to all his family. He lived a life that gave so much joy to others, everyone of us as little bhoys lay in bed dreaming of being Billy McNeill in Lisbon lifting that big cup aloft. Our kids will no doubt have the same dreams and he will live on thru them"

@Redw1tch1: "A true leader, a lion and a gentleman. Legend is the most overused word in the dictionary but it applies here. He embodied everything that is good about our club. Condolences to the McNeil family"

@ourshez: "Immortal"

@FritzAGrandAuld: "It is often said no single person is bigger than Celtic Football Club but Billy McNeill put that theory to an enormous test. A colossus and a giant of the game whose legend was only ever passed down to my generation by others, something that will continue for decades to come."