Signing for Celtic was a dream come true for Kirkintilloch legend

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THE shining highlight of Willie Wallace’s playing career was signing for Celtic in 1966.

The speedy striker – born and brought up in Kirkintilloch – was the only Lisbon Lion who the legendary Jock Stein went out of his way to buy.

His place in Paradise was cemented on May 25, 1967, when Celtic beat Inter to win the European Cup – the first British club to do so.

Willie said: “It will never happen again. It proved one major point – that money is not always the answer.

“It was like a dream. The good thing was that I didn’t have time to be nervous at all. It happened in a short period of time – then you look back and you can’t believe it actually happened.”

He recalls at the European Cup final – denuded of top and shorts – pals from Kirkintilloch (Ian ‘Budgy’ Martin and James ‘Doc’ Docherty) begged him for help as they had been robbed. Luckily, Jock Stein – whom Willie calls The Boss – came to the rescue with a loan!

Willie spent almost five years at Celtic, where he became a hit with fans for his electric pace and knack of scoring wonderful goals.

Speaking of Stein, Willie recalled: “He was fantastic. You knew exactly where you were with the man. He was the best manager I worked with, closely followed by John Harvey at Hearts.”

Willie also played in the 1970 European Cup final, which Celtic narrowly lost.

He was recently reunited with old pal Robert McCormack at a book signing in Falkirk.

They grew up in Hillhead and knew each other from the age of 10, playing in football teams.

Willie’s brilliant book – ‘Heart of a Lion’ – is out now. Copies of the book are available from publisher CQN Books, Celtic shops and Waterstones.

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