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7 Of The Best Players To Ever Play For Celtic

Podcast Blog Post 8


This podcast will certainly not be mentioning the likes of Craig Beattie, Willie Garner and Regi Blinker, who made Celtic fans blink twice just to double check how bad he was.

We will be focusing on the cream of the green and white crop, so we will start from 7 and work our way to the best player to ever play for Celtic.

7: Bobby Lennox 

The former striker is quite simply one of the greatest players in the Hoops' history and is revered as a member of the Lisbon Lions. He will be ranked alongside the best players ever in the history of Scottish football. He was born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, in 1943 – making him the Lisbon Lions born furthest from Parkhead. The striker signed for the Hoops from junior side Ardeer Recreation in 1961. In a total of 20 years in two spells at Celtic, Lennox scored 273 goals. This makes him the club’s second-highest goalscorer and ranks him ahead of Henrik Larsson. Lennox won 11 league titles, eight Scottish Cups and five League Cups at Celtic. Altogether, he won an incredible 25 trophies with the Hoops.

6: Paul McStay

Paul Michael Lyons McStay MBE was born on 22nd October 1964 in Hamilton, Lanarkshire. Grand-nephew of former manager Jimmy McStay, playing for Celtic was in the family blood. He signed for Celtic aged seventeen and made his senior Celtic debut in a 4-0 home Scottish Cup win over Queen of the South on January 21st, 1982. Part of a great Celtic dynasty - his Great Uncle's Jimmy and Willie were both Hoops greats while brothers Willie and Raymond also played for the club - Paul seemed almost destined to write his name into Celtic folklore.

At his best McStay was a peerless performer in Scotland and among the very finest midfielders in Europe. He had it all – wonderful touch and footwork, composed and elegant in possession and with the vision and ability to dissect any defence with a single pass. He would pick the ball up and glide effortlessly pass opponents before delivering an inch-perfect killer pass. In one book on the Centenary Season (1987-88) the other players are said to have tagged him as 'The Hat' as he was always able to pull a rabbit out of the hat when needed most.

5: Jimmy McGrory

Known as 'Human Torpedo' and 'The Mermaid' for his heading prowess, Celtic FC's Jimmy McGrory set a target even Lionel Messi will struggle to match with 410 top-division goals. Jimmy McGrory, is Britain's leading goal scorer, boasting an astonishing tally of 550 goals in just 547 appearances in all competitions for Celtic FC and Clydebank FC between 1921 and 1937. McGrory was the top league scorer in Europe in the 1926/27 and '35/36 campaigns with 49 and 50 strikes respectively. In 1927/28 he racked up 63 goals in all competitions, including a British record of eight goals in a single match against Dunfermline Athletic FC. By December 1935 he had reached a then world record of 363 career goals and he would go on to register another British record of 55 hat-tricks, one of which was netted in three minutes against Motherwell FC. The most incredible thing Jimmy’s insanely good goal scoring record is he only ever took 3 penalties in his career.

4: Charlie Tully

Charlie belonged to a time when players were underpaid and exploited, but he played football with a smile on his face. He was a man born to entertain and captivate, but a footballer above everything else. Charlie Tully was a legend, and there is no other word to describe the boy from Belfast who came to Glasgow in 1948 and transformed the fortunes of Celtic on and off the pitch. 

After the wartime years the famous Glasgow club had slumped to the edge of relegation, but things were different on Charlie’s arrival: the crowds rolled up to see this brilliant inside-forward, whose displays were recalling memories of bygone Celtic heroes, and his fame was assured when he took on Rangers’ famed and feared Iron Curtain defence and tore it to shreds in an epic 3-1 victory at Celtic Park. And there are people who still swear that they saw Charlie Tully sit on the ball during that particular Old Firm match! The legend grew, as did the stories, but one thing could be said of Charlie Tully: very often his exploits exceeded the myths surrounding him. At Brockville in a Scottish Cup tie against Falkirk, with Celtic two goals down, he scored directly from a corner-kick, had the goal disallowed and scored again with the retaken corner!

3: Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone 

The Little, red-haired Scotsman, was an integral member of the remarkable Celtic team that won nine Scottish soccer championships in a row between 1966 and 1974. He was also one of the Lisbon Lions, the Celtic team that became the first British side to lift the European Cup in 1967. A classical winger, famed for his dynamic speed, immaculate control and ability to go outside the opposing fullback, he was capped 23 times for Scotland, and scored 129 goals in 515 appearences for Celtic.

Off the field, Johnstone was never the most passive of players, clashing time and again with Celtic's illustrious manager, Jock Stein - to the point that Stein's own mother once rebuked him: "I think you're very hard on that wee fellow." Stein, who felt Johnstone was highly effective, "especially against continentals", once dropped him because "he was doing things he wasn't supposed to do". And there was a comical occasion when, in training camp with the Scotland team at Largs a month before the World Cup finals in Germany in 1974, Johnstone went out in a boat, found himself adrift and had to be rescued.

2: Kenny Dalglish

Was number 1 on our 7 of the best Liverpool players has come second here. Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish is unquestionably one of the finest players of his generation and among the very greatest footballers Britain has ever produced.

Brought up in the shadow of Rangers' Ibrox Park, Kenny was actually a Rangers supporter as a kid. When Sean Fallon interrupted a family holiday to go up to Kenny's house to get him to sign for Celtic, Kenny readily admits he had to rush to his bedroom to tear down his Rangers posters, not that for one second it would have stopped Sean Fallon from signing him.

He was a late developer and he was almost 21 by the time he nailed down a first team spot in August 1971, long after his contemporaries such as Macari and Hay. In May 1971 he gave the fans a taste of things to come when he scored six goals in Celtic's 7-2 win over Kilmarnock in a testimonial for Frank Beattie.

Between August 14th and September 11th 1971 Celtic defeated Rangers three times at Ibrox. Dalglish scored in every game, and in the first game he had scored his first competitive goal for Celtic with a coolly taken penalty after he had paused to tie his laces before scoring. He was the biggest sensation that Scottish football had seen for years and scored 23 goals.

Kenny Dalglish's departure is lamented by Celtic fans to this day. He was creative, scored goals, had stamina, heart and vision and was a great team player. In short, he was closest to the perfect player as you could find. Kenny Dalglish was a Celtic all-time great after 320 appearances and 168 goals.

Celtic's greatest ever player: Henrik Larrson AKA the 'King of Kings'

Larsson is a Celtic legend, playing a central part in the revitalisation of the club as it once again dominated Scottish football having been in the doldrums for much of the previous 15 years. He broke domestic scoring records and was the talisman to take the club to the UEFA Cup final in 2003. He was a truly world class player. If their was one match which would sum up Larrsons class it would be the 6-2 "Demolition Derby" of Rangers. The game has become legendary and Larsson stands out more than anyone else. His famous chip goal has been watched, analysed and drooled over more than any other in our history. The knock-down from Sutton, then the run from the half-way line, taking on and humiliating the Rangers players (nutmegging one of them), before finally executing the most perfect of chips over the hapless Rangers keeper's head and into the back of the net; it is sheer world-class, and can be little bettered.

He broke domestic scoring records, but his play was two-way and he created as many chances for his team mates as he scored for himself. His unselfish style was refreshing as it was brilliant to watch. He is a benchmark against which we doubt can ever see being equalled as a complete package of a player and person.

In many ways, it is hard to describe how much he meant to all of us at Celtic. He was one of the finest players in the world, and he loved us as much as we loved him. He gave more to the club than anyone could possibly ask.

If you do not agree with any of my picks and wish to create your own seven of the best Celtic players. 

Tweet @thefootballhour using the #7OTBCELTIC with your selections.