Lisbon Lion Gemmell was ‘life and soul of the party’

Fans pay their respects as Tommy Gemmell's funeral cortege stops at Celtic Park. Picture: John Devlin
Fans pay their respects as Tommy Gemmell's funeral cortege stops at Celtic Park. Picture: John Devlin
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Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell has been remembered as a hero and “life and soul of the party” as he was laid to rest.

The former Celtic left-back, who scored in two European Cup finals for the club, died aged 73 last week after a long illness.

Almost 1000 people turned out at Celtic Park to pay their respects as his funeral cortege left for Daldowie Crematorium in Uddingston.

Fellow members of the Celtic team which won the European Cup in Lisbon in 1967 were among the pallbearers.

They included Bobby Lennox, Bertie Auld, John Clark and Jim Craig, alongside former Rangers and Scotland winger Willie Henderson.

Jim Craig, who spoke at the hour-long service at Daldowie, revealed the confident nature of the ebullient Gemmell during their playing days. He said: “He was a nice guy, easy to get on with, good for the dressing room.

“In fact, when I first arrived at Celtic Park there used to be a little bottle in the corner of the basins in the toilet.

“I used to see some of the older players go in and take a wee swig of it, and I wondered what it was.

“I tried it and it was brandy, because the nerves were fluttering at that time before big occasions. Tam didn’t need that. He was fine. The life and soul of the party in the dressing room and outside the dressing room as well.”

Football figures from present and past were among the several hundred mourners at Daldowie. Those attending the service included Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and chief executive Peter Lawwell. John Hughes, part of Jock Stein’s squad in 1967, was also present.

Former Celtic player and manager Davie Hay and former Celtic captain Tom Boyd, as well as ex-Hoops players Danny McGrain, Dixie Deans, Frank McGarvey, Davie Provan and Andy Walker, also turned up to pay their respects.

Eddie Gray, who played for Leeds United and was a former Scotland team-mate of Gemmell’s, was also present.

Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson and administration chief Andrew Dickson attended on behalf of the Ibrox club. Applause rang out as the procession left the Parkhead stadium for the final time while many supporters threw Celtic scarves towards the funeral cars.

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. The Motherwell-born defender also scored in the 1970 European Cup final in Milan when Celtic were defeated 2-1 by Dutch side Feyenoord.