Billy McNeill.

Sir Alex Ferguson pays tribute to Billy McNeill

Sir Alex Ferguson has said he is “deeply saddened” following the death of former Celtic captain Billy McNeill on Monday at the age of 79.

The former Scotland international made over 800 appearances for the Celts from 1957 to 1975 with him wearing the captain's armband as the Hoops became the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967, under the stewardship of Sir Alex's managerial mentor, Jock Stein.

McNeill moved into management following his retirement from playing, preceding our former manager at Aberdeen where he took charge at Pittodrie from 1977 to 1983.

He managed clubs north and south of the border, with two stints at Celtic Park alongside spells at Manchester City and Aston Villa.

Billy McNeill leads Celtic out at the 1967 European Cup final.
Billy McNeill captained Celtic to European Cup glory in 1967, as the Hoops beat Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon.

Both men faced each other during their playing days, with McNeill captaining Celtic and Sir Alex playing as a forward for Rangers.

Sir Alex paid tribute to someone he's described as a “giant of Scottish football” and “a truly good man”

“I, like everyone in Scotland today, is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Billy McNeill,” the former United boss said. “He was a giant in Scottish Football, a man with an incredible presence and I'll always cherish the fact that we entered professional football at the same time.

”We played against each other on many occasions and, as anyone who played against him will testify, he was the fairest of players. He was also a truly good man and will be a loss to everyone who knew him.

“Farewell Cesar.”