3. Henrik Larsson
Larsson was signed by Celtic manager Wim Jansen in July 1997 for a fee of £650,000. In his first season at Celtic, Larsson played the role of supporting forward alongside Darren Jackson, Simon Donnelly, and later Harald Brattbakk.
He was moved at the start of his second season to be the focal striker rather than the supporting forward. This led to him scoring 242 goals in 315 competitive Celtic matches. He broke domestic scoring records and was the talisman to take the club to the UEFA Cup final in 2003, where they lost 3-2 to Porto in extra-time with Larsson scoring both the goals for Celtic.
During his seven years of stay with Celtic, he won the Scottish Premier League 4 times and the Scottish Cup twice. One of the greatest Celtic players ever, Larsson is very much loved and cherished by the Celtic fans.
2. Billy McNeill
An undoubted Celtic great, Billy McNeill, was the captain of the Lisbon Lions, the team that won the European Cup in 1967. He was signed by Celtic from the nearby junior team, Blantyre Victoria, in 1957 as a defender.
As captain, he won 9 Scottish League Championships, 7 Scottish Cups, and 6 Scottish League Cups, as well as the European Cup final. He had the honor of being the first British player to lift the European Cup. He was voted the greatest ever captain of Celtic by the club’s fans in 2002.
Billy McNeill retired as a player in 1975 after over 800 appearances for Celtic. During his career, he won 29 caps for Scotland. The following quote from Jock Stein sums up Billy McNeill’s importance to the Celtic sides of the era perfectly:
“What makes a great player? He’s the one who brings out the best in others. When I am saying that I’m talking about Billy McNeill.”
1. 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 Jimmy McGrory.
McGrory 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.
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. However, 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 that they reduced his wage from £9 to £8 from the beginning of the season, that was less than his teammates, for the rest of his career. When he later discovered this dreed, McGrory simply said:
“Well it was worth it just to pull on those Green and White Hoops.” and “McGrory of Arsenal just never sounded as good as McGrory of Celtic”
Money meant nothing to McGrory. Scoring goals for Celtic meant everything. He was the very personification of the true spirit of the club he adored. He eventually retired from the game in 1937 having spent 15 great years with Celtic.
Players who nearly missed out – Charlie Tully, Jimmy Quinn, Scott Brown, etc.
Checkout: Greatest Celtic Managers Ever