Former Celtic player Willie Fernie dies aged 82

Willie Fernie
Fernie managed Kilmarnock between 1973 and 1977

Former Celtic player Willie Fernie has died at the age of 82 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Fernie scored 74 goals in more than 300 games in two spells at Celtic in the late 1940s, '50s and early '60s.

A Scotland international who played in two World Cups, he moved to Middlesbrough in 1958 before returning to Celtic and then joining St Mirren.

After moving into coaching with Celtic's reserve team, Fernie became Kilmarnock manager in 1973.

With Killie he won promotion to the new Scottish Premier Division in 1976.

Former team-mate Billy McNeill told the Celtic website: "This is very sad news but I know that Willie had been ill for quite some time.

"He really was a terrific player who we all looked up to when we were young footballers and a lot of the ideas he put into training helped us immensely.

"He was a very fit man and put everything into training and when he eventually went into coaching, that helped us further as he was quite a hard trainer.

Willie Fernie
Fernie spent most of his career at Celtic, making over 300 appearances

"His training regime instilled in us all a will to do our best on the training ground as well as on the pitch on a matchday.

"In the early 1950s we were all fans of Willie Fernie, so to eventually get to play in the same team as him as a youngster and then go on to be coached by him was terrific.

"His play in taking on men and making space for the strikers in the middle was fantastic and he was a true hero of the supporters in the 1950s."

Fernie played in the same Boro team as Brian Clough and a spokesman for the English club described the Scot as a "wonderful dribbler" and also expressed "sincere condolences to his family".