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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Celts hero passes away
Simpson in action for Celtic
Simpson was one of the Lisbon Lions
Former Celtic goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson has died at the age of 73 after suffering a heart attack.

The ex-Queen's Park player kept goal for the Hoops in the historic 1967 European Cup final win over Inter Milan in Lisbon.

Simpson played for the Parkhead club between 1964 and 1970, making his debut in a Fairs Cup tie at Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium.

The Scottish international also played for Third Lanark, Newcastle and Hibs.

Simpson made his debut for Queen's Park a month before his 15th birthday in 1945 and, after doing his National Service in Catterick, he joined Third Lanark in 1950.

However, within a year, he had moved to Tyneside where he won the FA Cup with the Magpies in 1952 and 1955 - the last domestic silverware won by Newcastle.

Everything about him was terrific. He was a lovely man and a great player
Billy McNeill

Simpson returned to Scotland in 1960 when he joined Hibs, where he stayed before Jock Stein sold him to Celtic four years later.

The legendary Celtic manager teamed up with the 'keeper at Parkhead soon after.

Simpson made his debut for the Hoops in the Nou Camp against Barcelona where the visitors lost 3-1.

However, it was in 1967 when Simpson joined the ranks of Celtic legends for his part in helping the club become the first British team to win the European Cup.

He also played in another historic game when he made his international debut for Scotland in the 3-2 win over then world champions England at Wembley.

Simpson retired from the game in 1970 but made one final appearance at Parkhead the following year, when the Lisbon Lions played together for one final time.

Celtic's Billy McNeill and Ronnie Simpson defend against Rangers
Simpson in action against Rangers

He took over as manager of Hamilton Academical but stayed at the club for less than a year.

Lisbon Lions captain Billy McNeill lead the tributes to his former Celtic team-mate.

McNeill described the death of Simpson as adding to the feeling of lost of invincibility among the Celtic heroes who beat Inter Milan following the death of Bobby Murdoch two years ago.

McNeill said: "When Bobby died, it was particularly hard because we lost our invincibility.

"Now Ronnie has joined him and it is a very sad day for me. The news today has hit me very hard I must admit.

"Ronnie was a lovely man, great company, a terrific colleague and the perfect goalkeeper for us.

"I have lots and lots of fond memories of Ronnie but, unfortunately, they are only memories now.

"Ronnie was as much a footballer as he was a goalkeeper.

"Anything that went in behind us defenders, Ronnie would come out and do something about it.

"He had this wonderful habit of pulling off terrific saves when they were needed."

Celtic chairman Brian Quinn added his tribute to Simpson on behalf of the club for an "inspirational" figure at Parkhead.

He said: "I was really saddened to learn that Ronnie Simpson had passed away. He was one of the true Celtic greats."

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