Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie has spoken of his sadness over the death of ‘Lisbon Lion’ Tommy Gemmell.
The Parkhead club announced on Thursday morning that the ex-Hoops full-back, who scored in the 2-1 win over Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup final in Lisbon, had died at the age of 73 after a long illness.
The news came following confirmation over the weekend that Billy McNeill – the Lions’ captain and McAvennie’s former manager – has dementia.
Boyhood Celtic fan McAvennie, 57, told Press Association Sport: “It is a shame.
“It has been a horrible week all round, really, with the news about Billy as well and now Tommy – two great men.
“I remember the Lions when they were playing. I was only a wee boy but I got to know them through the years when I played for Celtic and it was great.
“They are always about the place. I was on a couple of trips with Tommy and his knowledge of the game was incredible.
“He will be sadly missed at Celtic Park.”
During a hugely successful career Gemmell also scored in the 1970 European Cup final in Milan but the Hoops were beaten 2-1 by Dutch side Feyenoord.
Former Celtic midfielder Murdo MacLeod described Gemmell as “one of the greats”.
MacLeod, who also spent a spell as assistant manager at Parkhead, told BBC Scotland: “I know he had been struggling over the last few months. Just really sad news.
“He’s obviously been one of the greats at Celtic Park to be part of the European Cup-winning side.
“A top player, one of the first defenders getting forward all the time. (It’s) just so sad. We heard Billy McNeill’s news over the last few days and now this. It’s just very sad.”
Former Celtic striker John Hartson wrote on Twitter : “Sad news hearing Tommy Gemmell has passed away.. Celtic great thoughts are with his family and close friends, RIP Tommy.”
Celtic’s Old Firm rivals Rangers said in a statement: “The club would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of Celtic legend Tommy Gemmell.
“He was one of the great Celtic and Scotland players and will be sadly missed.
“Our thoughts are with Tommy’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
Another former Celtic striker, Chris Sutton, posted on Twitter: “Very sad news about Tommy Gemmell. He was a true Lion. A legend.”
The Scottish Football Association wrote: “A hugely sad loss. Our thoughts are with Tommy’s family and friends.”
Dundee, who Gemmell captained to 1973 League Cup success and managed to the First Division title in 1979, said in a statement: “The thoughts of everyone at Dens are with Tommy’s family and friends at this sad time.”
More of Gemmell’s former clubs were quick to pay tribute.
“Nottingham Forest were saddened to hear of the passing of former player Tommy Gemmell this morning,” read a statement from the Championship club, for whom the Scot made 39 league appearances and scored six goals from 1971-1973.
“Everyone at Nottingham Forest sends their condolences to Tommy’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Albion Rovers said in a statement: “E veryone at Albion Rovers FC, fans and staff would like to pass on our condolences to the Gemmell Family after the sad passing of ex-Albion Rovers manager (on two occasions) and Celtic legend Tommy Gemmell today.
“Tommy was in charge of the Rovers from 1986-1987 and built up the majority of the squad that Davie Provan won the league with. Tommy returned to manage the club in 1993-1994 season. RIP Tommy Gemmell.”