17 March 2006

Final farewell for Celtic legend

BBC Scotland

**Many more links, details and photos onsite


Thousands of mourners have turned out to say their final farewells to football legend Jimmy Johnstone.

The service took place at a church in Uddingston

The former Celtic and Scotland winger, nicknamed Jinky, died on Monday after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

His former Lisbon Lion team-mates, the Old Firm managers and Celtic's current first team joined mourners at the St John the Baptist Church.

Many more fans gathered outside the church in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire to pay tribute to the former player.

Floral tributes were piled up in front of the church before the funeral got under way.

One, in the shape of a football, was dedicated to "Wee Jinky, Lisbon Lion".

There was a tribute of lilies "to the greatest ever Celtic" from everyone at Celtic Football Club.

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After the service the cortege travelled through the east end of Glasgow to allow people to pay their respects. (Click to view)

The Lisbon Lions team, with captain Billy McNeill, current Rangers manager Alex McLeish and former Rangers players Ally McCoist and John Greig attended the service.

Author William McIlvanney and Glasgow councillor Alex Mosson were also at the church to pay their respects.

'Brave as a lion'

Others in attendance included singer Rod Stewart and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Thousands of fans lined the streets as the procession made its way to Celtic Park, where supporters had left scarves, shirts and written tributes to arguably the finest exponent of the Scottish game. (Click to view

Johnstone was a member of Celtic's Lisbon Lions team, who became the first British side to win the European Cup, beating Inter Milan in 1967.

He scored more than 100 goals for Celtic and won 23 Scotland caps.

More details

Born in Viewpark, Lanarkshire, Johnstone made his Celtic debut in 1963 and his skills on the ball earned him the nickname Jinky.

He became part of the team which won nine consecutive Scottish League titles between 1965 and 1974.

Johnstone was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in November 2001.

The Requiem Mass was led by the Rt Rev Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell.

He told mourners: "I sensed a tidal wave of sorrow across the land when people began to be aware that he had died, a river of sadness at the passing of the greatest ever Celtic player.

Johnstone became a campaigner for research into his condition

"It was the kind of sadness that eclipsed Old Firm rivalries, indeed all manner of rivalries, as Jimmy was beloved of all supporters of the beautiful game."

The Rt Rev Devine also recalled the time when Celtic Park became "the field of our dreams", his own personal memories of Jinky and paid tribute to his "immense efforts" to find funding for research into motor neurone disease.

Billy McNeill, the captain of the Lisbon Lions, told mourners Johnstone was as fond of the fans as they were of him.

"The wee man was an incredible personality and an incredible footballer," he said.

"He had unbelievable ball control, as sharp as a tack, as fit as anything, as brave as a lion.

Celtic fan Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster arrive for the funeral

"People talked about Jimmy's fans. Jimmy loved the fans - because he was a fan himself."

McNeill ended his tribute by saying: "Wee man - you will never walk alone, son."

Current Celtic chairman Brian Quinn said the player truly earned the title "magical".

"To see him racing down the wing at full speed, stop dead and leave the pursuing defender to storm past like a bull charging at a matador seemed almost to defy the laws of physics," said Mr Quinn.

"Twisting and turning on the proverbial sixpence he destroyed entire defences."

Meanwhile, in New York, the St Patrick's Day committee has given permission to Celtic supporters taking part in the parade to hold a minute's silence in memory of Johnstone when they stop outside St Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

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