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Top 5 Greatest Celtic Players of All Time

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Being one of the most revered clubs in football history, Celtic has had its fair share of incredible talent wearing the shirt. Below, we take a look back on the 5 greatest Celtic players of all time.

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Henrik Larsson

It would feel wrong to begin with anyone other than Celtic’s most popular modern player. Henrik Larsson played 7 seasons for Celtic, making 313 appearances and scoring 242 goals. The Swedish striker is the third-highest goal scorer of all time for Celtic, and has played more games than any other overseas player.

With the likes of Darren Jackson, Craig Burley, and Simon Donnelly, Larsson was signed in 1997 to play a supportive role in a group of talented strikers. But, the £650,000 signing soon showed his worth, as Larsson become the focal point of the team very quickly, eventually becoming the league’s top goal scorer in 1999, and between 2001 to 2003.

Jimmy Johnstone

During the prime years of Larsson in 2002, a fan poll recognised Jimmy Johnstone as Celtic’s greatest-ever player.

Johnstone was arguably Celtic’s most gifted talent, with an incredible ability to dribble past defenders. His eye for goal wasn’t bad either, scoring 82 in the 308 games he played.

But Johnstone was also representative of Celtic’s greatest era.

In 1967, the famous Lisbon Lions squad competed in 5 trophies and won them all – including the European Cup. Despite being a team game, it’s often the acts of individual brilliance that we remember, and Johnstone was full of these moments.

Jimmy McGrory

With an astounding 469 goals, Jimmy McGrory is Celtic’s top goal scorer of all time.

Everyone loves a one-club player, and Jimmy was just that, playing for 15 years and for 448 games. It’s also an incredible feat to have scored more goals than games over such a long period of time.

Jimmy become Britain’s highest-earning footballer and was tapped up by the likes of Arsenal.

In fact, after his absolute refusal to leave Celtic, it is believed that they gave him an unannounced pay cut out of spite of losing out on the sale – a dynamic that is difficult to imagine in today’s game.

Even though that was more than enough to solidify Jimmy’s legacy over a century later, he decided to manage the club for 20 years after the second world war.

Paul McStay

Known to the supporters as The Maestro, Paul McStay (a surname that would’ve been apt for Jimmy’s loyalty) was one of Celtic’s greatest-ever midfielders. A true number 8, McStay could do it all.

Another one-man club, McStay played 515 games for Celtic from 1981 to 1997.  After missing out on the Scottish league in 1980, McStay very quickly made an impact and led the team to league trophies in 1981 and 1982.

Billy McNeill

When talking about the Lisbon Lions squad, McNeill is rightfully remembered as being at the center of it; captaining the team during the European Cup victory. With 822 appearances, McNeill has played by far the most amount of games for Celtic.

Throughout his 18 seasons at Celtic, he has won 9 League Championships, 7 Scottish Cups, 1 European Cup, and 6 Scottish League Cups. There is no better Celtic trophy cabinet than McNeils, and it was hard-earned through his on-pitch aggression and ball-winning abilities.

Photo by Unsplash

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