International Break best ever 11 – Central Defense


Moving on now to the central defenders…

Oh there’s only one King Billy,that’s McNeill! Was Billy the most accomplished centre-half I’ve seen play for us? I think maybe Paul Elliott and Marc Rieper were better,Mick McCarthy was similar,Big Johann and Bobo were just too scary to play against. But for what he has achieved,and as a leader of men,he gets my vote.

He’s still our record appearances holder,well over 800,and has an incredible trophy count. Nine Championships,seven cups-one in his final game,way to go!-and six League Cups. Oh aye,and another one with one of those trinkets from Lisbon…

And he set the ball rolling for the dominance of the Stein era with the winning goal v Dunfermline in 65,not a bad thing to have on your cv even if it stopped there.

It didn’t.

Billy broke into the team as a teenager in the late 50s,and was pretty much a mainstay for the next six or seven years. He was solid but little more than that. Going nowhere,but still a decent enough player. When Jock returned,Billy was enthused. “Oh,that’s great! We’ll see the difference now!” he is alleged to have said. Bhoy oh bhoy,he wasn’t wrong.

Jock came through that door,made everyone feel ten feet tall-when it suited him,it has to be said-and played them where their talents demanded. And he had the most capable man representing him on the pitch in Cesar. Billy had many career highlights,but the obvious one is still the iconic image of Billy holding his head nearly as high as he held The European Champions Cup that day in 1967. There’s a statue outside Celtic Park,in that very pose.

I don’t know how he had the strength to lift it,btw. I was in Estadio Nacional for the 50th Anniversary. It wasn’t quite as hot as reported in 1967,and I could hardly climb the stairs.  At walking pace! Our guys ran their hearts out for ninety minutes of relentless attack! Even red-headed fellas like Big Tam and Jinky,who must have been on the verge of sunstroke. That day gave me an even better appreciation of their achievements.

Aye,800+ games for Celtic. The man who lifted Big Ears to show off to the world,to let them know,the man who had the complete trust of the greatest manager ever,anywhere.

Billy McNeill waltzes into my team,no question. Oh,and he’s captain anaw.



Saltires en Seville,,,Roy Aitken 667 games (1975-1990) x55 goals.

Dunno what happened to Roy at the end of his Celtic career. Seemed so sudden and a bit sour. Anyway, Billy should get this spot as I saw him but tbh just remember him as an icon rather than a player. Elliot, McCarthy or Rieper all deserve a mention but don’t make the appearances requirement. So, it’s The Bear as he was such a huge part of my life as. Bhoy and young man. Not stylish but what drive and guts. Needed permission from hi Headmaster to play in European tie ( Albania? )  Wow!  Never say die attitude to bring the Cup back to Paradise pushing his team to achieve when lesser men would accept a draw. Aitken cross McGarvey, header GOAL … bedlam!  Then, then the leadership continued onto ‘88 double season! Best memory was his 2 goals in the 2-2 draw at Ibrox on 19th March, 1977 the 2nd (equaliser) as 10,000 Oldco scarves disappeared as if by magic!



Its not easy at all to narrow myself down to 2 defenders although after goalkeeper its probably the most sparse area of quality , well to me anyway.
I would never slate a player for trying if offered the chance to pull on the Hoops as afterall its not his fault and he will ( hopefully ) do what is asked of him to the best of his ability and if that ability is not good enough its not the fellas fault . Some however where just not up to the task , and did their utmost while some others collapsed.
Josh Thompson , Scheidt , Hooiveld , Du Wei , Rogne ( I liked him but injury prone , had a great sweeping tackle ) ,,,the list of pretenders to the throne are many . Chris Sutton played there ffs.
On the other hand fair play to Wgs for making Caldwell and McManus better than the sum of their individual parts and the bedrock of his Celtic side. I will never forgive Mick for backing off Kaka that night though,,golden rule ,,,go to the ball ,, a defender should never back off an attacker running at him, either go or stand your ground for him to take you on but never ever back off .
Martin clearly had his own stereotype of what a central defender looks like and I must admit I do tend to lean in his direction myself . If only he could spot a keeper like he could a defender eh ?

Although a pretty recent buy and departure there is no doubt in my mind at all who is the best defender Ive seen in the Hoops and the rest of the world has cottoned on now also .
Remember that ad “ Take it easy , with Cadburys Caramel “ well the wee rabbit got it wrong .
In my house it was “ Take it easy , when Virgil is back there ! “

Yes , Virgil is now the best defender down south and we had him for a mere 2.8 million from Groningen . It was an absolute snip and I do recall some explayer saying hes way to good for Celtic when we signed him which made me think if he can tell that from just that one club in a small space of time then he really must be something indeed, and he was. I still cant see an obvious flaw in his game , although he did give away a stupid penalty at the weekend its the first I remember him doing that .

The Liverpool podcasts I listen to just gush forth solid tributes to him all day long and his signing is viewed as the key piece of the defensive jigsaw down there . Yes 75 is a lot of money , as yer man from manchesscity said when he heard the price but it will be the standard decent player fee in 5 years .
They tell of one of his first games in front of the Kop he made a mistake and there were a few sighs and weak groans to which his head immediately swivelled straight into the Kopites staring them down . Everyone shut up and left him alone. The implication was you literally cannot get better than me , what you gonna do ! He has that arrogant streak I like ( kept in check ) and he knows hes the man . Like I stated last week I reckon he lifts the title at the end of the season, he was a Ramos wrestling challenge from having a great shot at the big cup last year .

Varane ( who I really rate ) is around the same age and it should be good viewing to see just how good each gets . But if I was placing a bet I would have big Virgil to emerge the worlds best defender over the next 5 years. Thats how good I think he is .
Big Virgil Van Dyke takes the first central defence slot .

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Some dissent in the ranks here,but that’s to be expected due to age disparity. Of course,none of the three of us were around when our best signing as centre-half arrived.

Big Jock.

Btw,I think it was Sachsenring Zwickau,East Germany,that Roy was excused from school for. I was in 1st Year at the time,he was in 5th year-and playing for Celtic! Even the teachers were starstruck,hahah!!!

Awe Naw

Only wan King Billy,

Yes Elliot, Rieper, VVD might be technically better players but they never took Celtic to two EC finals. Clean Sweeps, 9 in a row etc. Big Bobo even beats the silky centre backs using this criteria. Big Billy was such a good centre back he signed the only centre back better than himself Willie Garner

Big Tam McAdam deserves a mention along with his partner Roddie too. They two could outscore most Celtic centre forwards

Above average for me

Big Tony
Big Mick

Ramon Vega what an impact

And Rafael Scheidt if only we could have partnered him with Willie Garner



Awe Naw

“Like I stated last week I reckon he lifts the title at the end of the season, he was a Ramos wrestling challenge from having a great shot at the big cup last year”

Errr No

This Liverpool love in has to stop

Garry Duncan

Saw him score the opening goal in the first cup final I was taken to, was behind the goal he scored. Can remember it clearly. Hibs 6-1 game. Saw his last game 3 years after that. 3-1 Airdrie. Greatest captain and leader ever. No competition. Oh there’s only one King Billy that’s McNeill.

saltires en sevilla


Yes, Thanks, sounds right.

The Albanian story was all about Danny shaving off his beard.


For me it was the imperious one and only George Connolly, I was very lucky to play against him at the end of his career when he played junior football, I’m short on time now but I will post about him later.

Awe Naw


Shame on me I forgot to mention Davie Hay and Big Roy, George Connolly similar in that they could play in defence and midfield


,big packy

hi ghuys,. sorry got to rush down to the salon staff problems..king billy for me hail ceasar.


Awe Naw,

No problem, You know that their is one player who never gets a mention, but he had a telepathic understanding with Cesar, is John Clark, he always goes under the radar and you know why? because he was an unassuming guy, he never pushed himself forward, but he was crucial to the Lions success. “John Clark” Mr. unassuming, a nicer person you could not meet. So let us hear it for “John Clark”, one half of the Lisbon Lions centre-back position.

Awe Naw


Completely agree. That´s whose name and number I had on my back in Seville


Awe Naw

He’s still our record appearances holder,well over 800 ?

Really that must include games managed ?


The best central defender I have seen for Celtic by a mile was Pat Stanton. Unfortunately we got him close to the end of his career and on game 1 of season 2 his career was over. Coupled with Kenny’s departure, once he got injured that team disintegrated and we spent the next few years with journeymen central defenders including the legends that were Fat Pat and Frank Munro (who actually made Fat Pat look slim).

Ironically Stanton only ever got 16 caps. I remember seeing Baresi years later and thinking – he plays like Stanton – and the rest as they say is history.

The Gombeen Man

Welcome Dubaibhoy, First time I’ve seen you post here.

Running a bit behind this morning and was expecting and wasn’t expecting Central Defence.

I saw Billy play, for everything he accomplished for the club and I don’t think I could opt for anyone else as first pick. His footballing ability was one thing but it was how he captained and led the side. Maybe one day.

Pat Stanton too a great I was around when he played but have only vague memories. He’s a good shout though.

Big Roy too.

Bobo Balde, I was to watch him charging upfield to head the ball and go straight through and over the opposition forward. Never seen anything like it.

In the modern game VVD stands out by a country mile. The first time I saw him was when he was arriving at the ground just after he signed. He was injured. There was just something about him a quiet confidence, I suppose. How top English or European clubs didn’t pick him up before Southampton I’ll never know.

Sorry to miss some many others out…under time pressure.

Billy for me.


I don’t want to give too much away,but there’s every possibility that George might make an appearance yet. We are only on Day Four!

Awe Naw

KD ?



Awe Naw

Ok todays quiz really easy and your allowed to google

Steven MOUYOKOLO played two game for Celtic in the 13-14 season was signed from Wolves

Where did he leave too ? 1 point
What is he doing now ? 1 point

Googling allowed today

Awe Naw


Awe Naw

BTW lads Kenny Dalglish is a personal friend of mine. I taught him how to shield a ball and pick a pass


Taxi driver? Yoga instructor? Tory MP?


Hi bhoys
Has to be big Virgil… class
Before he came I would have said Paul elliot/Mark reiper superb players.To young to have seen the LL..started attending regularly from 78 so I seen 1 playing ….buzz bomb.

Awe Naw

keep googling I need this info for my player database and cant be arsed doing the work myself. Last I heard he was pretending to be an architect in the middle east

Awe Naw

SFA chiefs reluctantly ‘set to boycott’ Rangers legend Paul Gascoigne’s induction into Scottish Football Hall of Fame in case he turns up

The former England international is set to be honoured at a Hampden event later this month by SFA chiefs

SFA board members are ready to boycott Paul Gascoigne ‘s Scottish Football Hall of Fame induction dinner – according to a report.

Alan McRae, President; Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive; and Rod Petrie, Vice President), plus Neil Doncaster (PGB), Michael Mulraney (PGB), Thomas McKeown (NPGB) and independent non-executive director, Ana Stewart all want to attend. Peter Lawwell has made his excuses and will not be attending. Lawwell is said to be absolutely furious that the SFA refused an offer to use Restaurant 7 for the after event party even having offered them a 13,5% discount.

The former Rangers star was nominated by the public and is set to be honoured at event at Hampden on October 21, alongside Scotland women’s hero Julie Fleeting.

But the Daily Mail report that SFA blazers are concerned by Gascoigne’s who will invariably try to hit it off with Scotland Hero Julie Fleeting, if she is in possession of any drugs.

It’s been reported some members of the SFA board will look to turn down invitations to the black-armband dinner event.

The SFA have no direct influence over nominations but it’s said some within Hampden feel they cannot be seen with “Gazza while he tries it on with Julie” and although they will all attend it will be as individuals and not as administrators

Gascoigne spent three years at Ibrox following a big move from Italian giants Lazio in 1995 and is considered the greatest Scottish footballer from Newcastle ever.

He won two league titles, a Scottish Cup, League Cup and was named Player of the Year in his first season at the club and was booked unnecessarily while trying to be funny.

He received death threats from the IRA


And stick oot his ass.

Awe Naw

Sometimes he would stick it out just for fun but only in Hamburg hafen where nobody would recognize him and there were lots of sailors


I emigrated to Canada in the early eighties, prior to the arrival of the Web so there is a hole in my viewing of Celtic teams. When I visited home I would get along to Parkhead as often as possible but I have to admit to missing the progress of many players from that decade. The arrival of audio and video streaming has changed everything and it is possible to view virtually all of Celtic`s games.
For central defence I have seen two outstanding candidates…Billy McNeil and Virgil Van Dijk. However, there are other almost men who have performed above the basic norm. These include Tom McAdam and John McNamee. McAdam was originally signed as a striker but reverted to CB because he was mobile and good in the air. He was the forerunner of Sutton. If he had played more of his career at CB, who knows how good he would have become, as it was he learned the position very quickly and, at times, was outstanding. McNamee was unfortunate in that he joined Celtic at a time when the team was in the doldrums and had another CB who was developing into the position, Billy McNeil. He was very good in the air and a strong tackler. At a different time and in a different Celtic team, John would have scaled the heights with the club. As it turned out he excelled at Hibs and then moved on to do well with Newcastle. In the early years when McNamee and McNeil were at Celtic, there was nothing much to choose between them. But we all know how it turned out for McNeil.
I find it very difficult to choose between Van Dijk and McNeil….both are highly rated internationally; both are leaders in their team(although Virgil added this to his game since in moved South); both are excellent in the air, and both can bring the ball forward.
Looking at my previous choices I have played it safe with selecting Lisbon Lions, so I shall give this one to Van Dijk with Billy as second choice if we need two central defenders.




George Connolly…how could I forget him! CB, sweeper, midfield, inside forward. He did it all in a short career.

I first saw George before his first team debut at halftime in a European game. He came on to the parks playing keepy-uppy and went all round the perimeter of the park and back to the dugout without letting the ball touch the ground!




Another of those pesky young men, “The Quality Street Gang”. What a player, a very talented footballer, as you say he had the lot. I have a bigggg admiration also for John Clark, “Celtic’s Quiet Man”.


A teenage schoolboy visited Holy Cross High School to visit an old teacher. Billy was an Our Lady’s High School boy, and a visit to to ‘a rival team’ was unusual. He walked into the classroom as a giant, and the teacher introduced him to the Holy Cross boys, as the future Captain of Celtic Football Club.

Hail Cesar.

A thing of beauty

I was dead set on Paul Elliot as I thought he was a very classy player in a poor side. He showed desire to keep his performance level strong when at times he was playing alongside some inferior players but I take on board what Saltires said and recognise he did not stick around long enough. Therefore my first pick for centre half would be big roy. Nobody would ever say he was the classiest looking player – certainly not as classy as Elliot but what drive, heart and inspiration to those on the park and on the terraces. Feed the bear ringing around the ground as a youngster just made me me stand in awe and think, I need to come back here – it’s magical. I really should have just copied and pasted Saltires post because it’s the 85 cup final I remember best. Marauding up the wing, smashing in a cross, right on to the perfect point of mcgarveys ear. A thing of beauty indeed!! The fact that when I met him recently he was a true gent just seals the deal. Big Roy gets the first centre half berth from me.

The Gombeen Man

Loved the last line…Really funny post.


1. Big Billy- not the best CB but every team needs a force of nature as captain
2. George Connelly- brilliant footballer
3. Marc Reiper
4. Virgil Van Dijk
5. Pat Stanton
6. Pat McCluskey
7. Johann Mjallby
8. John Clark
9. Paul Elliott
10. Frank Welsh- has to be someone from my school in there (and Calvin Miller hasn’t made it yet)

McGarvey’s ear. PMSL!!!

True,too. That’s what he headed it with.


Sorry……… catch up here too, easily the best CB in the history of CFC

A colossus in the air, two footed except in any tackle any contemporary can’t come close, to the Cesar despite the many millions.

Has to be the one and only King Billy, 800+ games, held up the big cup and a true gentleman, seen some top CB’s over the years, Reiper, Elliot VvD, Billy just tops them all for me.


Bert Konterman, gets my vote, did you see the skill he showed when Henke approached him, most centre-backs would have scythed Henke down, but not Bert oh no, he opened his legs wide and invited Henke in.

“The Alternative View”. If you wanna have ma baby, come and speak to me, if you wanna have ma baby put your trust in me…

,big packy

mike, me me laugh there mate.hh.

Sol Kitts

Roy Aitken for me, especially for the Scottish Cup semi-final against Hearts, when we equalised in the last minute, everyone except the Bear settling for a draw and a replay. May just be age playing tricks, but I am sure I heard him roar the Bhoys on to one last effort, one last attack, and the winning goal. 1988 was a special year, and this was one of my highlights.

,big packy

should have said made me laugh.


A game which evokes special memories,in a season which does the same. I was discussing this game only on Tuesday with my sis,for that very reason. Aye,Roy was a great player for us for a good long time-I’ve still got a scar up near groin level from him at Central Park. I should have got him to autograph it!!!



saltires en sevilla


Yer Clearly a man of finely tuned appreciation in the finer arts of the gemme… love it ?

mike in toronto


If you are lurking majoc forwarded the photos. A right little charmer. Hope all is well.Cheers.


AWE_NAW.. n Majoc,
did you get them translations done?
Time is moving on and needs must.
Distribution is dependent on accuracy

Garry Duncan

My sis commented recently that we nearly got crushed before that DUFC Final. Polis as usual caused it. They opened the big gate eventually and we all flooded in free from near asphyxiation.
Game ended magically ?


New Article Posted

Sol Kitts

Aye, I remember that crush. Polis on horses pushing people into the gate and threatening arrest if you dared to go against them. Could have ended in tragedy but knowing Plod they would just have blamed the fans.