I’ve not written an article on Paul before because I’ve always felt, how can I do him justice, but given what’s going on at present, I thought now is the time.
For those of us of a certain generation Paul is simply known as The Maestro, a title he well deserves.
A player of outstanding talent who never let Celtic down, he was,always there for us.
Paul McStay is a Grand-nephew of former Celtic team captain and manager Jimmy McStay, so playing for Celtic was in the family blood.
Paul was already highly regarded as a player Celtic Boys Club, but he really came to prominence when he scored two goals and was man of the match as Scotland schoolboys defeated their English counterparts 5.4 at Wembley in front of a live TV audience in June 1980.
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.
In 1982 he captained Scotland to victory in the UEFA European Under-18 Championship. I think this is the only major trophy Scotland have won.
Paul’s talent was so significant that he quickly became a first team regular. He was a key man under Billy McNeill and then Davie Hay and soon earned international recognition with Scotland-by the age of 21, he had collected two league titles plus a Scottish Cup and a League Cup winners medals.
It was during the course of Celtic’s wonderful Centenary season of 1987-88 that Paul was at his magnificent best. Anyone who witnessed that season will tell you that Paul had no peers, he was simply outstanding and I think it was then that the name “The Maestro was christened by the support. It was certainly when it became mainstream amongst the support
Paul had everything required in his locker to be an outstanding central midfielder, impeccable touch and footwork, he was composed and elegant in possession and had the vision and ability to dissect any defence with a single pass. He would pick the ball up and glide effortlessly past opponents before delivering an inch perfect killer pass.
He added another Scottish Cup winners medal to his list in 1989, but it would be some time before any more silverware came his way. By the early 1990s, Paul had the burden of captaining one of the poorest Celtic sides in history. Years of under-investment in the playing squad saw Celtic struggle badly. His talent was still there for all to see, but many of his team mates shouldn’t have been anywhere near a Celtic jersey.
Of course, it’s well documented that Paul missed a decisive penalty in 1994 in a shoot-out as Celtic blew a golden chance to claim their first major trophy since 1989 against Raith Rovers.
I still think that Gordon Marshall should have saved 3 of the Raith penalties that day.
A wee footnote to that day is that Dave Narey was the official man of the match, another fabulous player of his generation, although I have to be honest and say I wasn’t thinking that about Dave that day.
When Celtic finally lifted another major trophy in 1995, there is no doubt it was made even sweeter that it was Paul who lifted the Scottish Cup against Airdrie.
A footnote to that game is that Les Mottram was the ref, the man who became famous for not awarding Dundee Utd a goal against Partick Thistle, when the ball had hit the back of the net. It was then picked up by a Thistle player in the area-not the goalkeeper-and punted away. He didn’t award a penalty either. Crazy.
An ankle injury forced Paul’s surprise retirement at the end of the 1996-1997 season.
Paul made 678 appearances for Celtic, scoring 72 goals.
He won 3 League medals, 4 Scottish Cup and 1 League Cup winners medals.
In 2002 he was voted in as one of Celtic’s greatest players ever as part of the greatest Celtic team ever in a poll conducted by the club’s fans.
Paul is one of the finest, most talented and most respected Celtic players ever.
I had the pleasure of a very quick meeting with Paul, in St Andrews of all places. Me and Paddy Bhoy were queuing up to play The Himalayas, a fancy putting course. At certain times of the day,non members can play. Paddy said Paul McStay is behind us in the queue and he was.
It summed him up for me, him and some of his children were queuing up like the rest of us, humble, as ever.
I thanked him for all he had done for Celtic and he replied it was a pleasure.
That sums him up for me. A true gentleman and a Celtic great.
Once again, can I thank the wonderful Celtic wiki, who help me, so much, in piecing these articles together.