Celtic Diary Thursday March 2: Tommy Gemmell. Goodnight and God Bless
The official club website announced…
CELTIC legend Tommy Gemmell has passed away at the age of 73, and his death will be mourned by Celtic supporters and also the wider football world.
A member of the legendary Lisbon Lions, Tommy scored Celtic’s equaliser that famous day, on May 25, 1967, as Jock Stein’s side went on to beat Inter Milan 2-1 and lift the European Cup, the first British team to do so.
And Tommy was also one of the few players to have scored in more than one European Cup final, scoring again three years later in the 1970 final against Feyenoord in Milan’s San Siro Stadium.
He spent 10 years at Paradise, between 1961 and ’71, making 418 appearances and scoring 63 goals. And as well as his two European Cup final goals, there were also 31 penalties. Indeed, he only missed three spot-kicks from the 34 he took in his career, a remarkable conversion rate.
Tommy’s first-team debut came on January 5, 1963 when he played in a 5-1 league win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, while his first goal came at Rugby Park in October 1964. The Hoops lost 5-2 that day, although Celtic’s other scorer was the man who joined Tommy on the scoresheet in Lisbon just under three years later – Stevie Chalmers.
Although renowned as a left-back, Tommy had actually started the historic 1966/67 season in the right-back role, but he switched flanks at the turn of the year, with Jim Craig coming in at right-back. And the two full-backs were outstanding in the European Cup final, with Jim Craig setting up Tommy to blast home Celtic’s equaliser.
During his 10 years with the Hoops, Tommy won six league titles, three Scottish Cups, four League Cups and, of course, the European Cup. He was also capped 18 times for Scotland.
He made his 418th and final appearance for Celtic on November 3, 1971 in a European Cup tie away to Sliema Wanderers. The Hoops had won the first leg 5-0, with Tommy scoring one of the goals, and they also won the return leg 2-1. Two months later, he joined Nottingham Forest where he spent two years, playing alongside future Celtic manager, Martin O’Neill, and coach, John Robertson.
After a short and unsuccessful spell at Miami Toros, he then joined Dundee for three years, and ironically captained them to League Cup glory, beating Celtic 1-0 in the 1973 final. He hung his boots up in 1977 and went straight into management at Dundee, staying there for three seasons. It was there he signed Jimmy Johnstone. He would then go on and manage Albion Rovers for two individual seasons, six years apart.
Tommy Gemmell is a true Celtic legend, part of the greatest side in the club’s history and a man who played a pivotal role in our greatest ever triumph when, in Lisbon’s Estadio Nacional, 11 men all born within a 30-mile radius of Celtic Park, beat Inter Milan to win the European Cup.
The legend of the Lisbon Lions was created that night, and Tommy and his team-mates were assured their place in the pantheon of Celtic greats.
And, like the rest of the Lions, Tommy remained humble about his incredible football achievements.
The whole Celtic Family is mourning his passing, and everyone associated with the club sends their thoughts and prayers to his family, his fellow Lions and his many friends at this desperately sad time.
Our thoughts are with Mary and Tommy’s family and friends at this very difficult time.
Funeral details will be announced in due course.
‘They never die who live in the hearts they leave behind.’
The original attacking full back, whose powerful shot was feared all over Europe in the late sixties and early seventies has passed away.
The thoughts and prayers of all of us are with his family.
It’s a sad day for all of us, though a few beers and you tube may well be on the cards this evening.
Gemmell knew how to put a smile on our faces, and thats how he will be remembered.
Up in Inverness last night, Celtic recorded a 4-0 win with a performance described as ..
“… a really complete performance tonight. When I came in here in the summer, I thought we were a long way away from a performance that reflected on how we wanted to work and play. That there tonight was a demonstration of how we want to work.
“Firstly, defensively, being strong and aggressive and working their socks off together, denying them space to play, and when you have the ball, playing with that charisma, quality, rotation, mobility, and with penetration in the team and looking a real threat going forward.
“I take my hat off to the players. It was a brilliant performance on the back of Inverness having played well in the last couple of games as well.
“This is a team playing at a really good level and what they are showing is an incredible appetite to improve and be better and that is driving them on to get results. It’s a phenomenal performance from them from the beginning of the season but we are never satisfied and that’s why we will always improve.”
On the day we find that we have lost one of the members who contributed to the greatest team performance of all, thats a fitting tribute to the true spirit of Celtic.
Rest in Peace, Tommy Gemmell.
And say hello to your wee pal for me…