Celtic Legend Willie Fernie sadly passed away at the age of 82 after fighting Alzheimer's for more than 10 years.
The word Legend is banded about the game of football far too easily nowadays, however the generation at Celtic Park in the 1950s, 60s and 70s were true Legends, none more so than those Celtic players who beat Rangers 7-1 at Hampden Park to win the League Cup. A victory that coined the song, 'Oh Hampden in the Sun'.
Fernie scored 74 goals in 317 appearances for Celtic. He started his career at Celtic Park in 1948 and left ten years later with a move to Middlesborough, but the draw of Celtic Park and its fans proved too much and the striker returned to Paradise in 1960.
He helped Celtic lift the Coronation Cup, winning the League and Scottish Cup Double in 1954 and won two successive League Cups which included, the historic 7-1 victoy over Rangers in 1957, scoring the final goal of the game and to put Celtic into 'Seventh Heaven'.
In his later days at Celtic, he played a pivotal role in the development of the youth set-up at Parkhead, which included those youngsters who would grow up to become the Lisbon Lions.
Lisbon Lions Legend, Billy McNeil said on the Official Club website: “This is very sad news but I know that Willie had been ill for quite some time. He really was a terrific player who we all looked up to when we were young footballers and a lot of the ideas he put into training helped us immensely.
“He was a very fit man and put everything into training and when he eventually went into coaching, that helped us further as he was quite a hard trainer. His training regime instilled in us all a will to do our best on the training ground as well as on the pitch on a matchday.”
McNeill added: “In the early 1950s we were all fans of Willie Fernie, so to eventually get to play in the same team as him as a youngster and then go on to be coached by him was terrific.
“His play in taking on men and making space for the strikers in the middle was fantastic and he was a true hero of the supporters in the 1950s.”
In the early 70s iwas lucky enough to be trained by Willie at Parkhead.Some other players there under him were Jackie Mc Namara, Donald Watt even then Willie still had the goods then. As an Aussie you can imagine the thrill of being under such a great player. He will remane a special person that he be sorley missed .
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Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine.com and produces the Scottish Football show The Final Whistle for Pulse 98.4FM. He also works on a freelance basis and has contributed to the Daily Record, The Scotsman, the Daily Mail and hasfeatured on BBC Radio Scotland and Sports Tonight TV.