||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2011)|
Wallace (right) and Tommy Gemmell (1971)
|Full name||William Semple Brown Wallace|
|Date of birth||23 June 1940|
|Place of birth||Kirkintilloch, Scotland|
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Playing position||Inside forward|
|1965–1969||Scottish League XI||4||(3)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
He started his playing career with Stenhousemuir in 1958, moving to Raith Rovers a year later. It was in Kirkcaldy that "Wispy", as Wallace was nicknamed, developed his reputation as a top-class goal poacher, his skills being rewarded with a first Scottish League cap.
Wallace's form attracted attention from larger clubs, Heart of Midlothian eventually spending £15,000 to take him to Edinburgh in April 1961. The increased pressure for success at Tynecastle initially curtailed his scoring exploits, for he was expected to replace no less a figure than Alex Young, the "Golden Vision", whom Hearts had sold to Everton a couple of months earlier. By season 1962–63, however, Wallace was fully settled into the tactics of manager Tommy Walker, and he would become Hearts' top scorer for the next four seasons through to 1965–66. In doing so, he helped Hearts win the 1962–63 Scottish League Cup and come within a goal of winning the 1964–65 Scottish League, while gaining full international recognition for Scotland.
In 1966, however, his form plummeted and his goal scoring ceased, and, amid rumours that he had been "tapped" up by another club, his departure from Tynecastle was widely anticipated. The surprise was that his destination wasn't boyhood favourites Rangers but their nemesis Celtic, for whom Jock Stein paid £30,000 to secure his services.
Within 6 months he was to attain Scottish footballing immortality, as one of the "Lisbon Lions", the famous Celtic team who won the European Cup in 1967. He also won the league championship in each season he was at the Glasgow club, the Scottish Cup in 1967, 1969 and 1971 and the League Cup in 1968 and 1969 during an era widely considered the greatest in the club's history. In total, he scored 135 goals in 234 games. The only blemish was a disappointing 2–1 defeat to Feyenoord in the 1970 European Cup final.
After five fruitful years with Celtic, Wallace and team-mate John Hughes were sold to Crystal Palace in October 1971 for a combined fee of £30,000. Neither enjoyed great success in Croydon and Wallace was back in Scotland with Dumbarton less than a year later. As his career wound down, he moved to Australia in March 1975 to play for APIA, where he won 2 league titles before returning to Scotland in March 1977, first to Partick Thistle for a week, before becoming player-coach at Ross County for the rest of the 1976–77 season.
Career after retirement
Retiring as a player in June 1977, he joined the coaching staff at Dundee. When this role ended he returned to APIA as a coach, eventually settling in Sydney and starting his own sports shop.
In 2008 Tommy Burns a Celtic legend died and Wallace helped organise a tribute for 31 May 2009, over 35,000 people attended at Celtic park to see the current Celtic squad play against the Tommy Burns Select team – which ended a dramatic Celtic 11 TB Select 4.
42 days later, on 12 July Celtic took on Brisbane Roar in a friendly organised by Wallace. Celtic won the game 3–0. The game took place in Australia, where Wallace has lived for the last 30 years.
- "Willie Wallace". Londonhearts.com (London Hearts Supporters' Club). Retrieved 3 December 2011.