Celtic and Rangers are two of the most followed clubs in the world. Both the clubs boasts a rich history and many great players were a part of that. Winning the Scottish League Championship not less than 102 times between them, the clubs are indeed the place where countless legends were born. In this article ,we have decided to pick the Celtic FC greatest XI and Rangers FC greatest XI of all time.
Celtic FC Greatest XI v Rangers FC Greatest XI Of All Time
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GK – Packie Bonner
It was quite a difficult choice to pick one of Ronnie Simpson or Packie Bonner. Simpson was a member of the Lisbon Lions while Bonner served his whole career for the Hoops. Ultimately Packie Bonner’s longivity gave him the edge over equally brilliant Ronnie Simpson.
Spotted by Sean Fallon ,Bonner was invited to Glasgow for a trial. He impressed Jock Stein and became his last signing for the club in 1978. He made his debut on St Patrick’s day 1979 in a 2-1 win at home to Motherwell. Brave, athletic and a superb shot stopper, Packie was to become a mainstay of the Celtic team throughout the 1980s and the early years of the 90s
Bonner went on to play 642 times for Celtic, with 483 league appearances. In total with Celtic, he won four League Championship medals, three Scottish Cup winners’ medals and a League Cup winners’ medal. Although he was released by manager Lou Macari in 1994, he was re-signed by Tommy Burns after Macari was sacked. His last appearance for Celtic was winning the 1995 Scottish Cup final under Burns. After the Scottish Cup Final victory over Airdrie, Bonner took on the role of player-coach and finally left the club in 1998 to work as a coach alongside former team mate Tommy Burns. Bonner is the most prolific goalkeeper in Celtic’s history, and their fifth-most prolific player of all time.
RB – Danny McGrain
With no disrespect to Alec McNair , Danny McGrain is our first choice Right-back. A great stalwart in the Celtic sides of the 70’s, he was a truly world class player. McGrain signed for Celtic in May 1967 and became one of the so-called ‘Quality Street Gang’, the great Celtic reserve team that also included players such as Kenny Dalglish, Lou Macari, Davie Hay and George Connelly, who eventually took the places of the ageing Lisbon Lions. At first, McGrain was regarded as a midfielder but was utilised in a variety of roles in the reserve side before becoming established as a right-back.
Consistent and level headed, he managed to more than make himself known to all, and his reputation was international. He truly was world class, and many commentators from the 1970’s have said that he was the best in the world in his position. A great accolade. Celtic fans always knew about his ability, and in a poll to find out Celtic’s greatest XI, McGrain easily found a place in this alongside Jinky, McNeill and Larsson.
He went on to play 659 competitive games for Celtic between 1970 and 1987, winning seven League Championships, five Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups. McGrain played in the 1974 and 1982 World Cups for Scotland. His 62 caps have earned him a place in the Scotland national football team roll of honour and he was inducted to the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
CB – Billy McNeill
Unarguably the greatest Celtic Captain and defender ever, Billy McNeil’s inclusion was a very easy decision to make. He is best known for captaining Celtic to their European Cup triumph in May 1967 and he later went on to manage the club on two occasions.
He was signed by Celtic from nearby junior team, Blantyre Victoria, in 1957 as a defender. McNeill was the perfect leader and came up with more than a few famous goals including the winning goal in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final to end a seven year trophy drought. His statue outside Celtic Park holding aloft the European Cup is fitting reward.
As captain he won nine Scottish League Championships, seven Scottish Cups, and six Scottish League Cups, as well as the European Cup final. He had the honour of being the first British player to lift the European Cup. He retired as a player in 1975 after over 800 appearances for Celtic. During his career, he won 29 caps for Scotland.
LB – Tommy Gemmell
A member of the Lisbon Lions, Tommy Gemmell is immortalised by scoring the equalising goal in the ultimate final as Celtic lifted the European Cup in 1967. He also bagged one in the 1970 European Cup final, making him one of only two British footballers to have scored in two European Cup finals
Signed from Coltness United in 1961, he excelled as a left-sided fullback and had powerful shooting ability. Gemmell made 418 appearances for Celtic and scored 63 goals. It wasn’t just in Scotland where his ability was recognised. In their Xmas poll of 1967, France Football magazine ranked Tommy as the sixth best player in Europe. In 1970, a poll of sports journalists in Hungary & Brazil voted him as the best right-back in the world.
After spending 10 years with the club, Gemmell was transferred to Nottingham Forest in 1971.
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CDM – Paul McStay
Paul McStay 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. Part of a great Celtic dynasty – his Great Uncle’s Jimmy and Willie were both Hoops greats while brothers Willie and Raymond also played for the club – Paul seemed almost destined to write his name into Celtic folklore.
McStay was appointed club captain in 1990, a position he retained until his retirement following the 1996–97 season. In his time with the club, Celtic won the League title three times, the Scottish Cup 4 times and the League Cup once. Although the second half of McStay’s career coincided with a time when Celtic were in turmoil and were overshadowed by rivals Rangers, in 2002 he was voted a member of Celtic’s greatest ever team by the club’s fans.
Unquestionably one of the finest, most talented and most respected Celtic players ever. He is also a member of the Scotland Football Hall of Fame, which honours the best players to play in Scotland and is located in the Scottish Football Museum.
CM – Charlie Tully
Charlie Tully needs no introduction. This Celtic legend is known worldwide for this effortless aptitude to slide past the opposition players, as if the ball was magnetically connected to his feet. With his extraordinary football talent and a rare abundance of skill Tully was the darling of the Hoops fans for over a decade and his cheeky approach to football has made him one of the best loved Celtic icons of all time.
Tully moved to Parkhead in June 1948 from his hometown side Belfast Celtic where he had been idolised by the support. His journey across the Irish Sea – for a then sizeable fee of £8,000 – triggered a frenzied response from fans in Glasgow. Celtic were really in the doldrums at this point in their history and Charlie with his magical skills and ‘Cheeky’ personality lifted the whole club and helped Celtic to start winning honours again. There is as strong case for claiming that Charlie was really the first “Celebrity” footballer long before the arrival of George Best, David Beckham and such like.
On his game Tully would relentlessly tease the opposition with his outrageous ability and his ball skills would bamboozle opposing defenders and thrill the crowd. In a League Cup match at Parkhead in September 1948 Tully’s skill simply savaged the feared Rangers rearguard whose brute force was simply no match for an on-song Charlie. He played a total of 319 matches for Celtic, scoring 47 goals, throughout his career, which spanned 11 years.
CM – Bobby Murdoch
Murdoch was one of the Lisbon Lions, the Celtic team who won the European Cup in 1967. Murdoch signed for Celtic in August 1959 as a £3-a-week part-timer while working as a sheet metal worker. He gained experience playing for junior side Cambuslang Rangers before joining the Parkhead club permanently in 1961, and made his First Team debut against Hearts on 11th August 1962.
During his time at Celtic, he won eight Scottish League titles, four Scottish Cups and five League Cups, as well as the 1967 European Cup Final winners’ medal.Murdoch’s shot was deflected by Stevie Chalmers to score Celtic’s winning goal. Murdoch also played in the 1970 European Cup Final, when Celtic lost 2–1 to Feyenoord. In total, he made over 500 appearances for Celtic and scored approximately 100 goals.
Formed a rock-solid partnership with Bertie Auld in midfield that proved even more watertight than the catenaccio of Inter. Plagued by injuries in his career, his importance to Celtic was highlighted by Jock Stein’s response to the question of when Celtic might next win the European Cup: “When Bobby Murdoch is fit”.
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RM – Jimmy Johnstone
“Jinky” was one of the finest dribblers to ever pull on a football strip. His trickery decimated Inter’s defence – one of the best back fours the game has seen – in the famous 1967 cup final. He was voted Celtic’s greatest ever player in a fans’ poll in 2002. Jinky was the player that all neutrals identified with as they marvelled at his unique dribbling skills. His bravery was as impressive as his skill creating so many memories of stirring performances and famous victories.
Jimmy Johnstone joined Celtic in 1961. His career would be very much stop start for the first two years, until Jock Stein arrived and transformed the club and Jimmy along with it. Under Stein, Celtic became one of the most respected teams in Europe, integral to this success was Jimmy Johnstone himself. Although it has to be said that he was out of favour when Stein arrived, so much so that he was not named in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final victory at Hampden which launched the beginning of the successful Stein era.
Johnstone soon won Stein round with his skill, and by the 1965/66 season Jimmy was now an essential part of the Celtic team. His 32 league appearances and nine goals over the course of the season helped Celtic to win their first league title in 12 years.
Johnstone was one of the “Lisbon Lions”, the team that won the then European Cup for Celtic in 1967. In an early round tie against Nantes, Johnstone’s trickery on the wing saw him dubbed “The Flying Flea” by the French press, whilst his performances over the course of the season saw him finish third in the European Footballer of the Year award. In all he scored 129 goals for Celtic in 515 appearances.
LM – Bobby Lennox
Lennox was a left winger with an eye for goal, managing more than one in two for Celtic, a record most strikers can only dream of. Lennox’s main asset was his exceptional pace, and his ability to accelerate faster than anyone else enabled him to beat defenders giving him the advantage to take a pop at goal, which he took much advantage of. Ably assisted by Jinky , he scored in abundance and his record is almost without compare, scoring 273 league goals in 571 appearances for Celtic, making him the second highest ever scorer for the club. A remarkable achievement!
He won 5 League Cup Medals, 8 Super Cup Medals, and 11 League Medals. He was also a member of the Celtic team who won the European Cup back in 1967. Among his fans were great Bobby Charlton and Alfredo Di Stefano.
There are so many high points to his time at Celtic but winning the European Cup is the highlight despite him not scoring in that match. Regardless, he along with his colleagues bombarded the opposition goals with shot after shot which rung the alarm bells for Inter Milan and helped Celtic to force the winning goal. He was as important as anyone else. Possibly the high mark for Bobby Lennox was in scoring the winner v Real Madrid just a couple of weeks later, admittedly a friendly match but Real Madrid were the grandees of European football and this victory cemented Celtic’s right to be crowned the champions of Europe.
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ST – Henrik Larsson
Larsson is a Celtic legend, playing a central part in the revitalisation of the club as it once again dominated Scottish football having been in the doldrums for much of the previous 15 years. He broke domestic scoring records and was the talisman to take the club to the UEFA Cup final in 2003. He was a truly world class player.
Signed from Feynoord with a deal costing £650,000, Henrik Larsson joined Celtic F.C in 1997. After his poor start to the season, he went on to score 18 goals in all competitions,and was Celtic’s top scorer for the season. In November 1997, Larsson won his first medal for the club with a 3–0 win over Dundee United at Ibrox Stadium to give Celtic the Scottish League Cup. On the final day of the league season, he scored the opener with a powerful shot from 20 yards out in a 2–0 win against St Johnstone to clinch the championship for Celtic. It was the club’s first league championship win since the double winning season 1987–88 and stopped Old Firm rivals Rangers from breaking Celtic’s record of nine titles in a row.
At Celtic he went on to win four Scottish Premier League titles, two Scottish League Cups, and two Scottish Cups. He even received the European Golden Boot in 2001. During this time at the club, Larsson scored not less than 242 goals while playing a total of 315 competitive matches for Celtic F.C. He is remembered by Celtic fans as ‘The King of Kings’.
ST – Jimmy McGrory
When it comes to arguments over who is the greatest Celt of them all the name at the top of many people’s list is the incomparable James Edward McGrory. Even although he was only 5 ft 6ins, he was renowned for his prowess and ability from headers. His trademark was an almost horizontal, bullet header, which he performed and scored regularly from and which earned him his nicknames, of the “Human Torpedo” and the “Mermaid”
Signed by Celtic’s first manager Willie Maley, McGrory was loaned to Clydebank for a season, scoring 13 goals in 30 games for the Bankies before returning to Celtic Park, where he would proceed to become the club’s record marksman. He is Celtic’s top scorer of all time, with 469 goals in 448 games and holds their record for the most goals in a season, with 57 League and Scottish Cup goals from 39 games, in season 1926–27. He has also notched up a British top-flight record of 55 hat-tricks, 48 coming in League games and 7 from Scottish Cup ties. It could be argued he in fact scored 56, as he hit 8 goals in a Scottish League game against Dunfermline in 1928, also a British top-flight record.
In the summer of 1928 he turned down an offer from Arsenal to become the highest paid footballer in Britain because he could not bear to leave Parkhead. It latterly turned out that the Celtic board were banking on McGrory’s departure as a way of boosting the club’s bank account and so riled were they by his refusal of Arsenal’s offer (£10,0000 transfer) that they secretly paid him less than his team mates for the rest of his career. When he later discovered this dastardly deed McGrory simply said:
“Well it was worth it just to pull on those Green and White Hoops.” Money meant nothing to McGrory. Scoring goals for Celtic meant everything.
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GK – Andy Goram
Andy is arguably the greatest goalkeeper to ever pull on the Rangers number 1 shirt .A brilliant shot-stopper with magnificent positional sense, he enjoyed a remarkable run of 44 games in 1992-93 season without defeat lasting seven months in both Scottish and European competition.
Another way of measuring his outstanding talent is that he kept 107 clean sheets in his 258 games for Rangers. A brilliant record by anyone’s standards. Goram was in goal for the last six of Rangers Nine-In-A Row Championships. He was the rock which gave Rangers’ defence the confidence to know that even when their lines had been breached, Goram would often pull off the impossible.
Throughout his career he made valuable and unbelievable saves for Rangers and at one point people were undecided whether Andy or Peter Schmeichel was the best goalkeeper in Britain. A crucial figure in the nine in a row run so much so that Tommy Burns, then Celtic manager said, “On my gravestone it will read Andy Goram broke my heart”.
RB – Sandy Jardine
Jardine had true athletic prowess that could rival many of the best left-backs in current world football, even after 90 minutes he never looked tired. His versatility for Rangers was one of his greatest assets, along with his overall ability and his calm demeanour on the ball.
Twice Player of the Year in Scotland and a key man in the Treble teams of 1976 and 1978 as well as the Barcelona victory.,He had played wing half, inside forward – even centre forward – before manager Willie Waddell moved him to full back, where he gave such precise and cultured performances that he was acclaimed as one of the best defenders in the 1974 World Cup.
Jardine went on to play in two World Cups, winning 39 caps for Scotland. He made 674 appearances for Rangers -the third highest of all time after Dougie Gray and John Greig – and scored 77 goals. He won three Championships with Rangers, five Scottish Cups, five League Cups and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
LB- Arthur Numan
Arguably one of the best foreign imports ever to Scottish football. Arthur Numan was class personified with his ability to be firm in the tackle and also link up with players in front of him. His Old Firm highlight was his wonder strike he fired past Rab Douglas to earn Rangers a 1-1 draw in March 2002.
Numan enjoyed winning three titles with Rangers, all while he was the first-choice left-back for Holland’s national team. He had the ability to bomb up and down the left hand side all day long, and with frightening pace not many wingers fancied there chances against Arthur.
CB- Terry Butcher
Butcher’s high-profile capture from Ipswich in 1986 raised the stakes in Scottish football and the England defender went on to become one of the most effective and inspirational captains in Rangers’ history.
He made rock solid performances for his club team, Rangers. One of the big imports to the Glasgow club when English clubs were banned from European competition, Terry Butcher remains one of the reasons Rangers were a force in the eighties. As captain, he led them to three League titles in four seasons, plus two Scottish League Cups.
CB- John Greig
John Greig spent his entire career with Rangers, as a player, manager and director. He was voted “The Greatest Ever Ranger” in 1999 by the club’s supporters and has been elected to Rangers’ Hall of Fame. A true battler in the days that Celtic and Jock Stein dominated the Scottish league, he held the standard high for all Rangers players and made sure the club was heard during those less trophy laden times.
Greig made 755 official appearances for Rangers, scored 120 goals for the club and won three domestic trebles. Greig was captain when Rangers won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1972 beating Dynamo Moscow 3–2 in Barcelona.
CM- Derek Johnstone
An outstanding Rangers player who was so versatile he could play with equal ease at centre-half, centre forward or in midfield and did so for both club and country.
Famously scored the winner at 16 in the 1970/71 League Cup Final and triumphed in Europe two years later. He went on to score more than 200 goals for Rangers as well as appearing over 500 times for the club. He never achieved as much with Scotland as he did at Ibrox but he is adored by the fans for his contribution and love for the club.
CM- Barry Ferguson
Ferguson was one of the greatest players to feature for Rangers in recent times. In the Heart of the midfield on his day Barry was one of the best midfielders to wear the number 6. With his vision and coolness Barry was an asset to the midfield.
He led the Light Blues to a glorious Treble and their 50th title in 2003 but he left under a cloud having fallen foul of Walter Smith by misbehaving while on Scoland duty.
He totalled 431 games and 60 goals for Rangers, whom he captained from 2000. Ferguson won the Scottish Premier League, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup five times apiece for Rangers, including a treble in 2003 which earned him the honour of SFWA Footballer of the Year. He also helped them to the 2008 UEFA Cup Final.
RM- Brian Laudrup
The great Dane is one of the greats indeed he terrorised defences in Scotland for years and is the best foreigner to ever pull on a Rangers shirt. Ask fans of any club and they will tell you that seeing Laudrup in his heyday, was as impressive to watch as any home grown hero.
Astonishing close control, vision and pinpoint accuracy meant that Laudrup took Rangers to another level. He could score with either foot – he scored 45 goals – and it was his header that clinched 9 in a row. A true genius with a football. He was the complete master, terrifying defences any time he was near the ball. Premier League opponents had no answer to his skills.
His close control was extraordinary. The ball just obeyed his wishes. And because he had such electrifying acceleration, he could tear through midfield, release a pass and have time to reach an entirely different area of the pitch to be in for the kill. The “Prince of Denmark’ left Rangers with a huge hole than many since have tried, and failed, to fill.
LM- Davie Wilson
Wilson played an important role in the club’s success of the early 1960s. He had a natural striker’s touch which made him dangerous in front of goal. His strike rate of 157 goals in 373 games was extremely high for a winger.
One of his trademarks was to drift unseen into the box towards the far post when Alex Scott or Willie Henderson were raiding down the right flank and successfully pick up on their crosses.
He was naturally right-footed, and became adept at dribbling with either foot, crossing from the byline on the left, and cutting inside to shoot powerfully with his stronger foot or connect with through balls – tactics which brought an impressive goal tally particularly for a player who was not a dedicated striker.
ST- Jimmy Smith
Smith joined from East Stirlingshire in 1928 and made his debut against Hamilton Academical in March 1929. He was a free-scoring youngster and went on to enjoy a lengthy Ibrox career which spanned three decades.
Whether on the ground or in the air, Smith’s powerful physical presence always posed problems for defenders and allowed him to find the net with pleasing regularity. He amassed a huge tally of goals including 300 in both peace and wartime league matches.
Smith continued to play for Rangers during the unofficial matches played during the War but retired from football upon the return of official domestic football in 1946–47. After he retired he continued as a club trainer then chief scout until 1967.
ST- Ally McCoist
Super Ally deserves his place as one of the best strikers in the county’s history with a goal ratio of more than a goal every two games. McCoist began his playing career withSt Johnstone before moving to English side Sunderland in 1981. He returned to Scotland two years later and signed with Rangers. McCoist had a highly successful spell with Rangers, becoming the club’s record goalscorer and winning nine successive league championships between 1988–89 and 1996–97.
He holds the Rangers record for league and European goals. He was the first Scottish player to win the Golden Boot, then promptly retained it, and he was the club’s leading scorer in nine of his 15 seasons. He was one of only three players to feature in all Nine-In-A-Row titles – the others were Richard Gough and Ian Ferguson.
In 15 glorious years as a Light Blue, McCoist smashed all of the striking records to set a standard which, given the frequent movement of players these days, which will never be bettered.
Here are the teams in full
Who would win in a match between these two?