Celtic are mourning the loss of a second Lisbon Lion inside a week following the death of Stevie Chalmers, the man who scored their 1967 European Cup winner. Chalmers has died at the age of 83, less than a week after his former team-mate and captain, Billy McNeill.
The Glasgow-born forward etched his name into Celtic folklore when his deft touch secured victory over Inter Milan in the Portuguese capital. Like McNeill, father-of-six Chalmers had been suffering from dementia in recent years.
A statement from his family read: “In recent times Stevie endured the toughest of battles, but just as he approached every game in a green and white jersey, he tackled his long-term illness with much bravery and dignity.”
Another Lisbon Lion, Jim Craig, struggled to articulate his pain. Craig wrote on Twitter:
Too awful for words to lose another brother within a week of Billy. RIP my friend and team-mate Stevie Chalmers.
Chalmers overcame life-threatening illness tuberculosis meningitis at the age of 20 and became a professional footballer three years later when he joined boyhood heroes Celtic.
Despite the late start, he scored 231 goals for the club before moving on to Morton and Partick Thistle. He later returned to Parkhead to work for Celtic Pools.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon said Chalmers “epitomised the humility of Jock Stein’s great team”.
Lennon added: “Stevie was a brilliant goalscorer for Celtic, with 231 goals to his name, but he was always a quiet and unassuming man whenever I met him, and happiest spending time with his fellow Lions.
“Like the rest of the Lions, Stevie was a Celtic supporter first and foremost, and, as supporters, we are all grateful for everything he did for this wonderful football club we all love.
“We are already a club in mourning, with Billy McNeill’s passing last week, and now we mourn the loss of another Lisbon Lion in Stevie Chalmers, Billy’s friend and former team-mate.
“We keep Stevie’s family in our thoughts, and also his fellow Lions who will also be devastated at this terrible news.”
Chief executive Peter Lawwell described it as a “particularly devastating time for the Celtic Family” and passed on his condolences to Chalmers’ family and the Lisbon Lions.
Lawwell added: “Whenever I was lucky enough to meet Stevie over the years, his humility gave little indication of his incredible accomplishments as a player, which saw him win four league titles, three Scottish Cups, four League Cups and, of course, the European Cup, in the course of scoring 231 goals in 403 appearances in the green and white hoops.”
Messages came in from former Celtic players as well as opponents, including Rangers and Inter Milan, who sent their “deepest sympathies”.
Former Celtic striker Brian McClair shared his personal memories on Twitter.
“Stevie Chalmers was working for Celtic pools when I arrived for my 1st day of training at Celtic Park in 1983,” McClair said.
“He came out of his office to greet me and wish me well and told me, if I ever needed anything, that I should pop in. I was lost for words, a Celtic legend going out of his way to welcome me, I was honoured. It was the mark of a humble, good natured man.
“A great player, a great man and a brilliant storyteller. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends.”