New sports pitch named after iconic Celtic captain Billy McNeill officially opened in Lanarkshire

A new football park in Lanarkshire named after Celtic and Scotland legend Billy McNeill has been officially opened.

The state-of-the-art 4G sports pitch at Our Lady’s High in Motherwell has been named as a tribute to former pupil Billy, who captained Celtic when they became the first British and only Scottish club to win the European Cup in 1967.

Billy – who was nicknamed Cesar by his team mates– passed away in April 2019 aged 79 after battling with dementia.

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His wife Liz McNeill was in attendance to help mark the opening of the new ‘Billy McNeill Sports Park’ situated within the secondary school grounds.

Remarkably he was one of two former pupils in the famous all conquering Lisbon Lions side who attended the school, the other was Bobby Murdoch.

Billy, the Lions’ on-field leader, and his teammates from that side are already immortalised in North Lanarkshire’s sporting hall of fame at Ravenscraig Sports Centre.

The new 4G pitch at Our lady’s High
(Image: North Lanarkshire Council)

The Celtic icon was born in Bellshill before moving to Motherwell. His playing career started at Blantyre Vics juniors.

A one-club player he enjoyed a successful managerial career afterwards starting off as a successor to Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen. He had two spells in charge at Celtic, as well as terms at Manchester City and Aston Villa in England.

The new all-weather 11-a-side pitch will be used by the school and local community teams and organisations for a variety of sports including football and hockey.

Billy’s wife Liz was joined by pupils and teachers from Our Lady’s High School and Frank McNally, North Lanarkshire Council’s Convener of Education for the opening.

Celtic FC chief executive, Michael Nicholson, told Lanarkshire Live: “It is magnificent that Billy’s name will adorn this new pitch, acting I am sure as a huge inspiration to so many young people from different school and community teams, across a variety of sports.

“Billy will forever be regarded as an icon of sport, not just in Scotland, but globally, for all he achieved.

Current pupils at the Motherwell school
(Image: North Lanarkshire Council)

“While achieving such greatness, Billy also represented Celtic and Scotland with professionalism, dedication and humility.

“I am sure that Billy’s family will be very proud that through this new sporting facility named after him, these values will continue to live on as a true example to young people for generations to come.”

The high school, founded in 1888 the same year as Celtic FC, has had other famous former pupils including Manchester United great Sir Matt Busby, former Motherwell FC player Stephen Pearson and Arsenal fullback and former Celtic star Kieran Tierney.

Frank McNally, convener of education and families with NLC told us: “We are all delighted to see this first-class pitch now open and being used by our school pupils and the local community.

“The building was initially delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are very grateful to the McNeill family for being here to help with its official launch.

“The term legend really does apply to Billy McNeill; he was an inspirational figure and an all-time footballing great.

“Billy was proud of his North Lanarkshire roots and hopefully this park will help produce more great sports men and women for us to be proud of.”

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Daily Record – Motherwell