Tommy Gemmell

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Tommy Gemmell
Tommy Gemmell.jpg
Gemmell (1971)
Personal information
Date of birth (1943-10-16)16 October 1943
Place of birth Motherwell, Scotland
Date of death 2 March 2017(2017-03-02) (aged 73)
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Left back
Youth career
1959–1961 Coltness United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1961–1971 Celtic 247 (37)
1971–1973 Nottingham Forest 39 (6)
1973 Miami Toros 0 (0)
1973–1977 Dundee 94 (8)
Total 380 (51)
National team
1966–1971 Scotland 18 (1)
1965–1968 Scottish League XI 5 (0)
Teams managed
1977–1980 Dundee
1986–1987 Albion Rovers
1993–1994 Albion Rovers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Thomas Gemmell (16 October 1943 – 2 March 2017) was a Scottish football player and manager. Although right-footed, he excelled as a left-sided fullback and had powerful shooting ability. Gemmell is best known as one of the Celtic side who won the 1966–67 European Cup; he scored the first Celtic goal in the final. Gemmell played 18 times for Scotland, and also played for Nottingham Forest, Miami Toros and Dundee. After retiring as a player in 1977, Gemmell managed Dundee and Albion Rovers.

Playing career[edit]


In October 1961, Gemmell joined Celtic from Coltness United;[1] he signed youth terms on the same day as right winger Jimmy Johnstone, who lived a few miles away and would also have a long association with the club.[2] He was one of the 'Lisbon Lions' who won the 1967 European Cup Final against Inter Milan, a final in which Gemmell scored an equalising goal with a shot from outside the penalty area.[3] Ironically, Gemmell should not have been in position to score the goal, as he had ignored team orders for one full-back to stay in defence at all times; the right back Jim Craig had already ventured forward, and it was he who played the square ball for Gemmell to shoot, with both advancing on the Inter box.[2] He also scored in the 1970 European Cup Final in a defeat to Feyenoord,[4][5] making him currently one of only two British footballers to score in two different European Cup Finals, the other being Phil Neal of Liverpool.[6][7]

Gemmell made 418 appearances for Celtic and scored 63 goals.[8] This total comprised 247 league (37 goals),[7] 43 cup (5 goals), 74 league cup (10 goals) and 54 European (12 goals) appearances. His record for penalties was 34 goals from 37 attempts.[9]

In his book, Lion Heart, Gemmell revealed that, during his time at Celtic, he was on the receiving end of sectarian abuse from certain teammates; he and teammate Ian Young had been the target of "a handful" of colleagues who had wanted an all-Catholic team.[2] He also stated that he received verbal abuse on several occasions from some supporters of Old Firm rivals Rangers due to his perceived status as a 'turncoat' (as a Protestant who played for Celtic), such as when attending matches many years after retiring.[2]

Later career[edit]

In December 1971, Gemmell transferred to Nottingham Forest to cover for Liam O'Kane. At the end of that season Forest were relegated from the top flight.[10]

In 1973 he had a short stint with the Miami Toros in the North American Soccer League. He returned to Scotland, signing for Dundee in July 1973, and won the 1973 Scottish League Cup Final against former team Celtic.[11] He retired from playing in 1977.[9]


Gemmell made his international debut for Scotland against England at Hampden on 2 April 1966.[12] The following year on 15 April, he played in the famous Home Championship match where Scotland recorded a 3–2 victory over World Champions England at Wembley Stadium, ending that team's run of nineteen games without defeat.[13] He won 18 caps and scored one goal from the penalty spot against Cyprus in an 8–0 win in a 1970 World Cup qualifier.[9][14] Gemmell's final appearance for Scotland came in 1971.[9]

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring as a player, Gemmell stayed to manage Dundee from 1 June 1977 to 15 April 1980.[3][15] He signed Jimmy Johnstone, his former teammate at Celtic, for Dundee.[2] Johnstone later admitted that he took liberties during this time because Gemmell was his friend.[2]

Gemmell later managed Albion Rovers from 1986–1987[16] and again from 1993–1994.[17]

Later life and death[edit]

In 1994, Gemmell sold his collection of Celtic medals at auction for £32,000; they were purchased by Glasgow businessman Willie Haughey, who has close ties with the club and loaned them back to Celtic to be put on display.[2][18] He was inducted to the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2006.[19]

Gemmell died on 2 March 2017, aged 73, after a long illness.[8][3][20] His funeral was held on 10 March with a procession starting from Celtic Park, and was attended by former teammates, serving Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers and Rangers managing director Stewart Robertson.[21]


  1. ^ Auld, Bertie (2008). A Bhoy Called Bertie: My Life and Times, Bertie Auld with Alex Gordon. Black & White Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 9781845028374.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g McColl, Graham; Gemmell, Tommy (2004). Tommy Gemmell: Lion Heart. Random House. ISBN 9781448132454.
  3. ^ a b c "Tommy Gemmell, Celtic hero and 'Lisbon Lion', has died after a long illness". The Guardian. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  4. ^ Parkinson, Jim (7 May 1970). "Tragic blunder by McNeill ends Celtic's European Cup hopes". The Glasgow Herald. p. 6. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  5. ^ McConnell, Alison (10 June 2015). "1970 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL: Lisbon Lion Craig said Celtic were 'too cocky' in defeat by Feyenoord". Evening Times. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Watch: Tommy Gemmell's two European Cup final goals for Celtic". Herald Scotland. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b Philip, Robert (2011). Scottish Sporting Legends. Random House. p. 52. ISBN 9781780571669.
  8. ^ a b "Tommy Gemmell: Former Celtic defender and 'Lisbon Lion' dies aged 73". BBC. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d "Tommy Gemmell dead: Celtic announce death of 'Lisbon Lion' after long illness, aged 73". The Independent. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Nottingham Forest at 150: Flashback: Former Celtic star's stint playing for the Reds". Nottingham Post. 24 December 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  11. ^ Archer, Ian (17 December 1973). "Modern Dundee display brings end to curious romance". Glasgow Herald. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  12. ^ Jacobs, Raymond (1 April 1966). "Significant Positions of Bremner and Law". The Glasgow Herald. p. 6. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  13. ^ Edwards, Glyn (17 April 1967). "Scotland end England's run of 19 games without defeat". The Glasgow Herald. p. 4. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Efficient Scots systematically destroy Cyprus". The Glasgow Herald. 19 May 1969. p. 4. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Dundee Manager history".
  16. ^ Reynolds, Jim (30 November 1987). "Friendly takeover". The Glasgow Herald. p. 12. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Obituary - Tommy Gemmell, footballer and Lisbon Lion". Herald Scotland. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Lisbon Lion selling his coveted winner's medal". The Herald. 2 September 1999. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Inductees 2006". The Scottish Football Museum.
  20. ^ Hannan, Martin (3 March 2017). "Obituary: Tommy Gemmell, Celtic Lisbon Lion, Scottish internationalist, club manager". The Scotsman. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Funeral tributes to 'inspirational' former footballer Tommy Gemmell". BBC News. 10 March 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2017.

External links[edit]

  • profile at Scottish Football Association
  • Tommy Gemmell at Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Player's Database