Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas has paid tribute to “magnificent character” Bertie Auld.
The Lisbon Lion passed away aged 83 on Sunday and Nicholas, who got to know him through his two spells at Parkhead, recalls a man who enjoyed giving him a gentle ribbing.
In an interview to promote The Prostate Cancer Memorial, 59-year-old former Hoops and Arsenal attacker Nicholas told the PA news agency: “Many times I came across Bertie. When I was a kid at Celtic, he was floating about the club. He was just such a magnificent character, constantly fun.
“He gave me quite a bit of stick when I was young. A lot of it was a wind-up but he was good at bringing you back down to earth.
“When big Billy McNeill was the manager, some of the Lions used to love to come in and have a wee drink with Billy after a game. One particular time, Bertie was Partick Thistle manager and we’d just beaten them 4-1. It was my home league debut and I’d scored what I thought was a spectacular goal.
“Wee Bertie was talking to the press in the hallway afterwards and I walked by. He had a big cigar and he just winked at me as he told the press my goal was ‘ordinary’. He was outstanding. I just respected him so much.”
Nicholas believes Auld and his revered 1967 European Cup-winning colleagues epitomised Celtic’s spirit.
He added: “The thing I loved about Bertie and the Lisbon Lions was the great humility and the great relationship they had with fans of all ages.
“I wouldn’t say the club paid any of those boys particularly well in those days but even later on in their lives, the Lions were always getting marched out to be applauded by the fans.
“They always had a bond with the Celtic support and that relationship is one I’ve always locked into. I can have problems with the owners and be quite negative about Celtic sometimes, and I get stick for that, but these guys are the true legends, the true heartbeat of what Celtic have become since the 1960s.
“Bertie was a major player in that. He was a true iconic Celtic man and a true iconic personality.”
The Prostate Cancer Memorial is a 10-foot tall mirrored steel pyramid dedicated to those lost to prostate cancer. Among those names on the sculpture at London Bridge Station is Charlie’s father Chic Nicholas, who died of prostate cancer in 2009, six years after being diagnosed with the most common cancer in men.
People will have the chance to purchase a permanent name engraving on the memorial to celebrate the life of a loved one they have lost to prostate cancer, with all proceeds helping fund life-saving research.
:: To find out more, visit prostatecanceruk/org.
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