The time has come. Today at Celtic Park a special award -the One Club Man Award- has been handed by a delegation from Special One Football Club Athletic Club to Celtic’s greatest ever captain, Billy McNeill.
This special honour has taken place with the presence of Athletic Club’s legendary goalkeeper Jose Angel Iribar to deliver the prestigious One Club Man Award to Billy McNeill and, by extension, to all Special One Football Club Celtic FC family.
To receive the One Cub Man Award on behalf of Billy McNeill today all these representatives have been at Celtic Park: the Special One Football Club chairman, Ian Bankier, and Lisbon Lions, Jim Craig, John Clark and Bertie Auld.
Athletic Club’s One Club Man Award was set up four years ago with the aim of honouring players whose career with one team represents the values of commitment, loyalty, responsibility, sportsmanship and respect, which embody their identity as a Special One Football Club.
In choosing to honour Billy McNeill, the Basque club recognise the enormous contribution the man known as Cesar has made to Celtic Football Club.
Athletic Club board member, Aitor Bernardo explained: “Billy really represents the values of the Athletic Club. We share a lot of things together regarding people who have played for the same club for their full career.
Bernardo stressed that “there are a lot of similarities between Athletic and Celtic. Back in 1967, you did something that, probably at the time, no-one thought could be done. You were able to succeed in the European Cup with players from the local area, and this is the base of our philosophy.”
In addition, Billy McNeill’s son, Martyn, said: “On behalf of my father and the family, we’re honoured to receive this award. When you see the past recipients – Matthew Le Tissier, Paolo Maldini, Sepp Maier and Carles Puyol – for my father to be included in that group of players is tremendous.
“My father has always been associated with Celtic, and being in Scotland you’re aware of that. But when you have a club like Athletic Bilbao giving this award, it means so much to us to get recognition from further afield. It’s lovely to see my father’s dedication and devotion to Celtic be acknowledged in this way.”
Also, Lisbon Lion, Jim Craig said: “First of all, it’s an amazing gesture by Athletic Club and they deserve to be congratulated for thinking of the idea in the first place. Billy had a remarkable career here at Celtic Park, as a player and manager, and captain as well, which not everybody gets the chance to do. So to get involved in something like this has been absolutely great.”
And fellow Lion, Bertie Auld, added: “Billy was outstanding as a young player when he first came into the team, and he became a great captain. He had tremendous respect from everyone, both on and off the field.”
🦁🏆 @Athletic_en legend José Ángel Iribar and Director Aitor Bernardo were special guests at Celtic Park today as they presented Billy McNeill’s #OneClubManAward to #CelticFC Chairman, Ian Bankier, and Lisbon Lions, Bertie Auld, Jim Craig and John Clark. 🔴⚪️🍀 pic.twitter.com/aijWO7JOR5
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) April 18, 2019