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Fullname: James Connelly Johnstone
aka: Jimmy Johnstone
Nicknames: Jinky, The Wee Man, The Lord of the Wing
Born: 30 September 1944
Died: 13 March 2006
Birthplace: Viewpark, South Lanarkshire
Signed: 8 November 1961 (from Blantyre Celtic)
Left: 9 June 1975 (free); 17 June 1975 (to San Jose Earthquakes)
Position: Winger, Midfield
Debut: Kilmarnock away 0-6 League 27 March 1963
Last game: Saint Johnstone away 1-2 league 26 April 1975
First goal: Hearts away 3-4 league 29 April 1963
Last goal: Dundee away 6-0 league 14 December 1974
Internationals: Scotland / Scottish League
International Caps: 23 Caps (4 Scottish League)
International Goals: 2

BiogJimmy Johnstone Pics - Kerrydale Street

In 2002 Jimmy Johnstone was voted by Celtic supporters as the greatest ever Celtic player. To fully understand why `The Wee Man` was given this tremendous accolade we have to go back to his beginning.

Jimmy had been kicking a ball for as long as he could remember, from a very early age he spent hours upon hours playing in streets and public parks, sometimes alone, sometimes with large groups of other youngsters and occasionally with his older brother Pat `Blondie` Johnstone. Pat was a fine player himself and Celtic were rumoured to be watching him closely, unfortunately Pat was injured playing for his local boys guild team and the resultant cartilage problem effectively ended his career. Years later Jimmy would say that he can remember the disappointment on his father's face (Matt Johnstone) when Pat suffered this injury and maybe, subconsciously, this drove Jimmy on.

Jimmy was first discovered at the ripe old age of 8 years old by a teacher, John Crines. Crines eventually persuaded the shy Jimmy to join the school team St Columba. With Jimmy in the team St Columba's became almost unstoppable and won every competition they entered. Upon moving to high school, St John's, Jimmy also helped their school team to previously unseen heights.

During a St John's trip to Manchester to play in a tournament Jimmy was made aware of his first footballing hero, Sir Stanley Matthews. Jimmy was mesmerised by Matthews' ability with a ball and upon returning home quickly obtained a copy of his autobiography. Jimmy would spend hours copying the techniques Mathews had used in his early years to perfect his ball skills. Basically this involved laying out dozens of milk bottles and dribbling the ball round them over and over again.

It helped because during the next St John's trip to Manchester, he was spotted by a Manchester United scout by the name of Wishbone. Fortunately for Celtic fate decreed and the chaplain of St John's, a Frank Cairney, who was a keen Celtic supporter, threw United off the track by informing them that Jimmy was keen to join Celtic. Cairney immediately contacted a Celtic scout he knew, John Higgins, of United's interest and Jimmy was invited to train with Celtic two nights a week.

Jimmy trained with Celtic twice a week for a year and on the 7th October 1961 he made his debut for the reserves against St Johnstone in a 4-2 win. Jimmy scored one and made the other three. Watching the game was then Celtic manager Jimmy McGrory who signed Jimmy that very night. Incidentally Tommy Gemmell also signed that night, a player he was to be intrinsically linked with through the rest of his life, famously on-field and mischievously off-field.

As was customary in those days Jimmy was farmed out to a junior club, Blantyre Celtic. This was supposed to be for a year but such was his ability he was chosen to play for Junior Scotland against Junior Northern Ireland.

Fate would decree that legendary Celtic scout Jimmy Gribben was watching the game and Gribben immediately suggested to McGrory that Jimmy be recalled to Celtic.

Jimmy would have to wait two years for his first team debut though, that came at Rugby Park Kilmarnock. Celtic lost 6-0 that day and there are few Celtic fans who could have contemplated the impression Jimmy would make on their lives in the next 12 years. Jimmy had to wait another month before his next game, away to Hearts in a 4-3 defeat although this brought the first of Jimmy`s 130 Celtic goals.

He retained his place for the next game, the Scottish Cup final against Rangers, which ended in a 1-1 draw with Jimmy earning rave reviews in the press for his display. He was inexplicably dropped for the replay which Celtic lost 3-0 and this brought out anger and frustration within the ranks of the Celtic support at a fractious time in Celtic's history. Although Jimmy McGrory was manager it was no secret that chairman Robert Kelly picked the team and his selections were often eccentric to say the least. Jimmy was actually contemplating jacking it all in at this point. Things were though to change miraculously.

The arrival of Stein and the Glory YearsJimmy Johnstone Pics - Kerrydale Street

Jimmy`s Celtic career would be very much stop start for a further two years, until Jock Stein arrived and transformed the club and Jimmy along with it. Under Stein Celtic became one of the most respected teams in Europe, integral to this success was Jimmy Johnstone himself. Although it has to be said that he was out of favour when Stein arrived, so much so that he was not named in the 1965 Scottish Cup Final victory at Hampden which launched the beginning of the successful Stein era.

By the 1965/66 season Jimmy was now an essential part of the Celtic team. In October 1965 he won his first winners medal when Celtic beat Rangers 2-1 at Hampden in the League Cup Final. Jimmy tormented the Rangers defence and gained Celtic a penalty for the second goal when Rangers' defender Davie Provan brought him down. Sadly, after the game there was a pitch invasion from the Rangers' end of the ground during Celtic's lap of honour and a few of the Celtic side had to fight their way from the field.

Celtic won their first title for 12 years in May 1966 at Fir Park by beating Motherwell 1-0 and Jimmy had played a huge part in the success of that season. The only tarnish in the season, was that a controversial disallowed goal at Anfield against Liverpool prevented Celtic from reaching the final of the European Cup Winners Cup.

By 1967 Jimmy was now one of the most recognisable players in European football with his small frame, bright red hair and jinking, dribbling, playing style. This was still an era when every team played with orthodox wingers and Jimmy was rated at as one of the best. He was comfortable going past a defender on the outside and could also be devastating cutting inside and contributing with many goals.

On the way to the 1967 European Cup Final Jimmy had turned in several great performances, particularly in Nantes where the French had appreciated his talents and christened him the 'Flying Flea' in the French press. In the semi against Dukla Prague he had scored the vital first goal and had kept the Czech defenders on edge for the entire match.

On 6 May 1967 Jimmy gave one of his greatest performances in a Celtic jersey at Ibrox. He scored twice in a 2-2, a result which gave Celtic their second successive league title. On a mudbath of a pitch in pouring rain he ran at the Rangers defence and unleashed a glorious, unstoppable shot into the top corner of the goal, and this with his weaker left foot.

In Lisbon his dribbling technique destroyed the defensive set up of Inter Milan. Tarcisso Burgnich, Jimmy's man marker, was led a dance for the entire match. Jimmy was essential to Celtic's victory and was given a roving commission by Stein in the final in another play to confuse the Inter defenders. The entire continent witnessed that night in Lisbon what a great player the wee man had become.

Shortly after Lisbon Celtic were invited to play Real Madrid in the great Alfredo Di Stefano's testimonial game. Celtic had a lot to lose and as new European Champions they were putting their reputation on the line. Jimmy rose to the occasion and gave (arguably) his greatest ever performance for Celtic. He tormented the Spaniards to the point that the Real fans began to chant 'ole' each time the wee man beat another defender. Celtic won 1-0 and were now Europe's greatest side without any doubt. Upon the final whistle Jimmy picked the ball up and held it aloft with one hand. The stadium rose as one to acclaim the performance of the `wee man` that night. It is often claimed by Jimmy`s team mates that Real Madrid tried to sign Jimmy after that performance although nothing was admitted officially by Real Madrid or Celtic.

In 1967 he was named 3rd in the European footballer of the year award, a notable achievement, behind Florian Albert and Bobby Charlton, however it was felt that Jimmy should have earned greater recognition given his achievements that season.

In the late 1960's Jimmy's game matured and he became a more complete player. The Celtic right hand side trio of Jim Craig, Bobby Murdoch and Jimmy was the envy of Europe and when Jimmy was on form it seemed Celtic were unstoppable. In December 1968 he gave another unforgettable display when Celtic beat Dundee United 7-2 at Parkhead. Contemporaries and fans from that era still talk of that performance to this day.

In 1969 Celtic beat Hibs 6-2 in the League Cup Final and Jimmy was again to the fore in another great Celtic performance. Weeks later they beat Rangers 4-0 in the 1969 Scottish Cup Final although Jimmy was suspended for this one and one wonders at the scoreline had the wee man played that day. Perhaps Rangers were let off lightly.

Many Celtic fans feel the display he gave in the 5-1 victory over Red Star Belgrade at Parkhead in the European Cup was his best ever. At half time Stein had cajoled him by saying he would not have to travel to the return leg if Celtic gained a substantial lead (Jimmy had a phobia about flying!). In the second half Celtic smashed in four goals all scored or created by Jimmy. Despite pleas from all around him he didn't travel to Yugoslavia for the return much to the disappointment of the Red Star officials.

Jimmy Johnstone 1973

By 1970 Celtic fans could boast that their man was the greatest player in Britain, eclipsing even the likes of Best, Charlton, Bremner and Ball. He proved it in the 1970 European Cup Semi final when he tore the much vaunted Leeds United defence apart over two legs. He was on song at Hampden in the second leg and tormented the great Leeds & English World Cup defenders, Charlton, Hunter and Cooper. This earned Celtic a place in the 1970 European Cup Final but they went down 2-1 to Feyenoord of Rotterdam. The Dutch side had a tight reign on Jimmy that night and he could not make an impression which was a terrible disappointment to everyone at Celtic.

At this time Rothmans selected a British best eleven side from a panel of experts and Jimmy was chosen in 1970, 1971 and 1972 which was a considerable achievement and showed that his talents were fully appreciated south of the border.

Jimmy was always the man for the big occasion and could be relied upon in the heat of Celtic v Rangers games. For a small man he became famous for his headed goals against Rangers. Twice at Ibrox he score the winning goal from headers. In 1971 with seconds remaining he out-jumped the Rangers defence to loop in a header for a 3-2 win. In 1973 he stooped to head a cross from Davie Hay past the lumbering figure of Peter McCloy. Jimmy often kept his best performances for Rangers games despite the heavy tackling and physical punishment often meted out to him.

The 1971 Scottish Cup Final replay is remembered as the 'Jimmy Johnstone final.' Stein gave him another roving role and with his close control and ability to beat a man he was instrumental in Celtic's 2-1 victory in a game where the scoreline did not remotely represent Celtic's superiority. One year later, in the 1972 Scottish Cup Final. he was on song yet again when Celtic beat Hibs by a record 6-1 scoreline. At this time when Jimmy was on form the feeling was he was unstoppable. However he could not breach the Inter Milan defence in the 1972 European Cup semi final and Celtic lost on penalties.

There was the occasional disappointment and he was carried off injured in the 1971 League Cup Final against Partick Thistle early in the match after a bad tackle by future Celtic team mate Ronnie Glavin. Celtic went down 4-1 and it is thought had Jimmy remained fit on the field then it may have been a different result.

As the 1970's wore on Jimmy was still a regular in Stein's team but could be left out on occasions mostly through ill discipline. He roared back to form in the spring of 1973 when Celtic and Rangers were tied in a race for the league. Celtic triumphed on 28 April after a 3-0 win at Easter Road and the wee man was in great form that day. He had calmed the team from the start by keeping possession and creating space for other players around him helping to make it 8 League title in a row.

He was often a victim of brutality from defenders, none more so than against the 'animals' of Atletico Madrid in the 1974 European Cup semi final at Parkhead. Vicious tackles rained down on him that night and he was pictured next day covered in cuts and bruises all inflicted by the Spanish team's defenders. Celtic received no protection from UEFA's officials after three Atletico players had been ordered off and despite receiving death threats Jimmy played in Madrid as Celtic went down 2-0, bravely given the circumstances. They were deprived of a crack at the mighty Bayern Munich and the likes of Jimmy, Kenny Dalglish and Dixie Deans would have loved to pit their wits against the great Franz Beckembauer.

His last great Celtic performance came in 1974 when Celtic beat Hibs 6-3 in the League Cup Final. He scored the opening goal and created several others as Dixie Deans helped himself to a another Hampden hat trick against Hibs. Celtic's 10 in a row bid floundered at Ibrox in January 1975 on a day when Jimmy was named as sub, leading to rumours that he had enjoyed the excesses of the new year and had been punished by being dropped. Had he played the outcome could have been different.

The final days....

Jimmy`s Celtic career was over on 10th June 1975. The end was difficult. Rather than an amicable denouement for Jinky, Jock was at the end of his tether and things had come to a head. The chairman Desmond White told the shattered player he was being given a free transfer. Years later Jimmy admitted it was like being handed down a death sentence, and he left in tears & tatters from that meeting. He bled Green & White but now it was all over. Jock Stein was exhausted and there was little more he could do.

He was devastated.

Jock Stein and Jimmy Johnstone had a relationship that could only be described as Father and Son, despite admittedly being terrified of Stein, Jimmy took liberties with the big man that others dared not to. Perhaps most famous of all was the time Jimmy was substituted in a league game in October 1968 against Dundee Utd at Celtic Park. Jimmy was replaced by George Connelly and upon leaving the field Jimmy threw his shirt at Stein in disgust. It hit the big man in the face and Jimmy had to escape up the tunnel with Stein in hot pursuit of him. Despite that, Stein loved him dearly despite any of his faults and Jock's motivation of Jimmy drove him to a higher level than he could ever dream of.

Jinky & the Celtic supportJohnstone, Jimmy - Pic

Jimmy was given a joint testimonial with Bobby Lennox when Celtic beat Manchester United 4-0 in May 1976. At the end of the game the wee man went on a final solo lap of honour in front 48,000 adoring fans. He stopped at the Jungle and threw his boots into the crowd which was a most fitting act as the fans in the Jungle had often witnessed his greatest performances on the wing. It was an emotional night and Jimmy was in tears and was joined by many Celtic fans who recalled his brilliance in a Celtic jersey. This was his last game for Celtic.

Many Celtic players have enjoyed a wonderful rapport with the fans but it's doubtful if there was any player more revered by the Celtic supporters than Jinky. Even after he finished playing his popularity with the supporters never waned and the feeling was reciprocated as he was always to be seen around Celtic Park on match days.

There are numerous further stories that can be told about Wee Jinky. Great film actor Robert Duvall (famous for “The Godfather” movies) got to know Jinky after working on a film in Glasgow and ranked Jinky as the greatest character he had ever met and he’d met so many. It was quite an accolade. Through Jinky's life, drink, women, laughter and pubbing were behind most of the mischief, and alongside close friend Tommy Gemmell they pushed things to the limit. He also loved to regale the public also, and had a smashing singing voice, even recorded a song titled “Passing Time” on the “B-side” to a club single.

One of the more infamous incidents was whilst on duty for the national side. After a late night’s drinking after training, a few of the boys were walking along the beach and saw a boat. They put Jinky into the boat and it set off. However there were no oars! The boys hurriedly got in another boat to get him but the boat had a leak in it! Jinky was lost and they had to get the guards out to get him. As this was before a big game v England the players were pilloried. However, we still won with a great performance by Jinky who after the match cheekily stuck two fingers up to the press gallery. A wee scamp!

Jinky was a lovable rogue and could exasperate even the most patient of men, but Jock was like a father and mentored and managed Jinky to the best of his ability. When you have a talent like Jinky on your hands, you can hardly turn them away, and Jock knew that better than any. Every manager has a great talent who doesn't follow the norm. Willie Maley had Tommy McInally, Jimmy McGrory had Charlie Tully, Jock had Jinky, O’Neill had Hartson and Strachan had Boruc. You always have a special case.


Jimmy Johnstone Scotland 1971

Jimmy had a mixed bag of memories at international level. In 1966 he had scored twice against England in a 4-3 defeat and despite playing well he was often inexplicably left out through the years. He amassed a paltry 23 caps through his career for Scotland.

Esteemed journalist Hugh McIlvanney put it as one of those mysteries best filed away but that would be shirking the truth.

He used to receive terrible verbal abuse from the Rangers end at Hampden on many occasions as the patrons in that era preferred the talents of Henderson. Jimmy always believed his greatest Scotland display was at Pittodrie when he ripped the Belgium defence to shreds and had the Aberdonian crowd in raptures that night in a 1-0 win.

In fairness, he was up against stiff competition for the number 7 jersey from the likes of Willie Henderson, Charlie Cooke, Willie Morgan , Peter Lorimer and Jimmy Smith but it is felt that he should still have gained more caps. He was the best of the lot.

Pathetically, in 1974 having destroyed the England defence at Hampden as Scotland won 2-0, he earned a place in the 22 man squad for the 1974 World Cup but then he was not chosen to play in any of Scotland's three matches.

He was so down-heartened with his treatment by the management and the Scotland support (sic!) that actually he was said to have asked to be left out of matches. It's a sad indictment on the Scottish football support that they could have treated such a talent in the manner they did.



After leaving Celtic in 1975, Johnstone had spells with San Jose Earthquakes, Sheffield United, Dundee, Shelbourne and Elgin City but his first love was Celtic and he maintained close relations with the club for the rest of his life.

Jimmy would admit that during his spell with the above clubs his heart still lay with Celtic.

There are still a few interesting stories to be told though including one game for the San Jose earthquakes against New York Cosmos. Lining up for New York was none other than Pele who reportedly ran the length of the field to shake hands with Jimmy Johnstone and give him a pat on the back. This delighted Jimmy and he turned in his best show for the Earthquakes.

Jimmy also hooked up with his Lisbon Lion team-mate Tommy Gemmell when Jimmy signed for Dundee. Gemmell was manager at the time and saw Jimmy as the perfect spur to take Dundee up a few notches. It also allowed the two loveable rogues to reunite again for everyone's entertainment & frustration.

Unfortunately for all concerned Jimmy still pined for Celtic and was not a success at Dundee. Although he did briefly play in the same team as a young Gordon Strachan, which the young man said humorously many years later that he was still recovering from after going out drinking with him. Strachan also said that even though he was a Hibbee through and through, that Jinky was his hero and as a kid who he wanted to be!

Jimmy played his last ever game on the 18th August 1979 for Elgin City against Deveronvale before a crowd of 545. Jimmy was released shortly afterwards.

Jimmy did return to Celtic for a 2 year spell in the mid 80`s coaching the under 16`s and under 18`s and assisting reserve team manager Bobby Lennox.

This unfortunately coincided with a troublesome time in Jimmy`s life with alcohol problems being chief amongst them.

Drink drove him to the bottom and his family sadly took the brunt of his despair. Friend Willie Haughey helped him and turned his life around after Jinky arrived at his office to try to sell to him his medals for some drink. Thankfully, Jinky reformed and began getting fit again. We can respect him for that and he became a perfect father.

Sunday September 8th 2002 was the day Jimmy Johnstone was voted into the greatest ever Celtic team and the greatest ever Celtic player. A few weeks later Jimmy was voted into the SFA hall of fame.

He accepted both these awards with remarkable humility given he was battling Motor Neurone disease at the time. In the case of Celtic`s greatest ever player he admitted to being surprised Henrik Larsson hadn`t won it.

Motor Neurone Disease and his passing away

Johnstone was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2002. Despite a brave battle against the disease, Johnstone died on 13th March 2006. Many tributes were left at Celtic Park by fans and thousands witnessed the funeral cortège passing through the streets of the east end of Glasgow.Jimmy's Funeral was held on St. Patrick's Day 17th March 2006 at St.John The Baptist in his home village of Uddingston and Jimmy was laid to rest at Bothwell Park Cemetery.

The CIS final played on Sunday 19th March 2006 between Celtic and Dunfermline became known as the `Jimmy Johnstone final`. Cetic won 3-0 and all wore the number 7 on their shorts.

In December 2009 a statue of Jimmy was unveiled outside the main entrance to Celtic Park. On March 5th 2011 a Statue of Jock Stein was also unveiled outside Celtic Park only a very short distance from Jimmy`s.

Many supporters feel it appropriate that our greatest ever manager will now watch over our greatest ever player at the gates of Paradise for all eternity.

A fund bearing Jinky's name continues to raise money for research into the disease. There are also three films available on DVD which bear witness to the man and his life at Celtic: "Jinky", "Lord of the Wing" and "A Bhoy's Tale".

Jinky is a Celtic legend and will be remembered throughout time by all.

Fabergé Egg

Jinky's Faberge eggJimmy Johnstone was immortalised in a range of diamond-studded Fabergé eggs created by descendants of the Russian Tsar’s court jewellers.

Jimmy Johnstone joined Thomas Jefferson and Lord Nelson in a select group of people who have inspired the creation of one of the glittering and precious objects.

Playing Career

1963-75 298 (10) 47 (1) 87 (5) 66 (1) 498 (17)
Goals 82 11 21 16 130

Honours with Celtic


European Cup winner (1)
League Championship winner (9)
Scottish Cup winner (4)
League Cup winner (5) [requires to be checked for years]


Site links






External Link

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography EntryJinky with European Cup

Johnstone, James Connelly[Jimmy, Jinky](1944–2006),footballer, was born on 30 September 1944 at 647 Old Edinburgh Road, Viewpark, Lanarkshire, the youngest of five surviving children (three had died in infancy) of Matthew (Matt) Johnstone, coalminer, and his wife, Sarah,née Crawley. He had an elder brother, Patrick, and three elder sisters, Theresa, Ann, and Mary. He was educated at St Columba's Roman Catholic primary school in Viewpark and St John's Roman Catholic secondary school in Uddingston. He became a Celtic ‘ball boy’ aged thirteen before playing for the club he, his family, and most of his local Catholic community of mainly Irish extraction supported. On leaving school aged fifteen he worked at Glasgow's meat market, then acquired a job in a clothing factory, and subsequently began an apprenticeship as a welder. From the latter two jobs he travelled two evenings a week to train with Celtic, the club for which he had recently signed, despite the close interest of the Manchester United manager Matt Busby. The red-haired Johnstone was later farmed out to a local junior club, Blantyre Celtic, for experience, and to add to his 5 feet 2 inch, six stone frame. He eventually settled at 5 feet 4 inches and weighed under ten stone throughout his playing days. On 11 June 1966 he married Agnes Docherty, a nineteen-year-old coil winder from Uddingston, and daughter of John Docherty, joiner. They had three children, James, Marie, and Eileen.

Johnstone had made his début for Celtic in March 1963 but only began to thrive and fully develop with the arrival of Jock Stein as manager in 1965. Johnstone went on to play 515 times for Celtic, scoring 129 goals. Although renowned as a small ‘jinking’ winger who mesmerized his opponents by dribbling the ball by and around them (sometimes repeatedly), he was an exceptionally rounded footballer. He was an outstanding passer of the ball and had dynamic speed, superb control, and exceptional spatial awareness. Despite his diminutive size a number of his goals were scored with his head. Although a brilliant individual, he was also a team player.

Between 1965 and 1974 Celtic won a then world record nine consecutive national league titles and numerous other trophies. In those years the team also played in four European champions cup semi-finals and two finals. In 1967 Celtic's ‘Lisbon lions’ became the first northern European club to win the European champions cup, beating Inter Milan 2–1 in the Portuguese city of Lisbon. Celtic again reached the final in 1970, but lost to Feyenoord. Johnstone was an outstanding member of the Celtic team during this period: a team that remains Scotland's most successful in European football. In the year Celtic won Europe's most prestigious football trophy Johnstone finished third in the voting for the European footballer of the year.

Johnstone made his full international début in 1964. He went on to play twenty-three times for Scotland. Among the reasons for such a small number of international caps (given his exceptional talent) were his fear of flying abroad for games, his occasional disciplinary problems (sometimes striking back at the brutal play of less skilful opponents), and a poor relationship with the Scottish football authorities, who were certainly affected by the anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, and anti-Celtic prejudices then prevalent in Scottish football and society. These manifested themselves in the way Johnstone was sometimes booed by home fans while playing for Scotland in Glasgow. The booing was compounded by the massive presence of Glasgow Rangers supporters among the Scotland fans, many of whom also preferred Willie Henderson, the Rangers winger.

On the field Johnstone was not inhibited by his lack of height and weight. In years of ball work and practice he had honed skills that were often beyond taller and more athletic looking footballers. As a youngster, after readingFeet First(1948), Stanley Matthews's autobiography, he had taken to dribbling around milk bottles every day in his hallway for three hours to perfect his skills. These were matched by a good deal of bravery, which was often required as ‘Jinky’ was frequently booted by less skilful players.

Johnstone's fear of flying was so intense that in November 1968 he arranged with the manager, Jock Stein, that he would be spared the flight to Yugoslavia for the return match of a European cup tie against Red Star Belgrade if he helped Celtic acquire a three-goal lead from the first match in Glasgow. Johnstone duly tore one of Europe's leading teams apart, scoring twice and laying on three other goals in a 5–1 victory: he didn't travel to the away tie. Johnstone said about Jock Stein, ‘Jock was good with tactics, but his real talent was with people … He knew if you had a problem’ (The Independent, 14 March 2006). Johnstone was uncomfortable with fame and ended up too often in bars. Stein used his network of Celtic-supporting informants to let him know whenever Johnstone was out drinking, and Johnstone would often receive a reprimanding call at the pub from Stein. Stein said:

people might say I will be best remembered for being in charge of the first British club to win the European Cup or leading Celtic to nine league championships in a row, but I would like to be remembered for keeping the wee man, Jimmy Johnstone, in the game five years longer than he might have been. That is my greatest achievement. (Daily Telegraph, 14 March 2006)

Johnstone was eventually let go by Celtic in 1975. Thereafter he played briefly for San Jose Earthquakes, Sheffield United, Shelbourne, and Elgin City, before finishing his playing days back at Blantyre Celtic. He also briefly returned to Celtic Park in the mid-1980s to coach youth players. He had made no plans when he finished playing football and soon found himself in considerable difficulties—drinking too much, working as a navvy, and piling up debts. But the love of his family, his strong religious faith, and his infectious personality and sense of humour pulled him through those dark days. In Johnstone's latter years the actor Robert Duvall, who consulted him when making a football film, declared ‘Wee Jinky Johnstone’ the most remarkable character that he, in a lifetime in Hollywood, had ever come across. In a similar recognition, in 2005 Johnstone was immortalized on a limited-edition Fabergé egg, the only living person since the tsars and tsarinas of Russia to have been honoured in that way.

Celtic continued to be Johnstone's passion long after he stopped playing and he could often be seen at Celtic Park as a match-day host until he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2001. To raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, together with Jim Kerr of the pop group Simple Minds, he launched a new version of the classic song ‘Dirty Old Town’, also a Celtic supporters' favourite. ‘Jimmy was among the greatest players this game has seen’, said Billy McNeill, the former Celtic captain. ‘However, I have as much respect for him as a man and the courageous way in which he handled his illness as I have for him as a footballer’ (The Independent, 14 March 2006). In 2002 Johnstone was voted Celtic's greatest ever player. A statue of him was unveiled outside Celtic Park in December 2008.

Johnstone died on 13 March 2006 at his home in Mossgiel Gardens, Uddingston, only a few hundred yards from where he was born. His funeral mass was held on St Patrick's day 2006 at St John the Baptist Church in Uddingston, concelebrated by numerous priests led by the bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Devine; thousands attended as his funeral cortège passed by. He was buried in Bothwell Park cemetery, near Uddingston. He was survived by his wife and children.

Joseph M. Bradley


J. Johnstone,Fire in my boots(1969) · T. Campbell and P. Woods,The glory and the dream: the history of Celtic F.C., 1887–1986(1986) · J. M. Bradley,Celtic minded: essays on religion, politics, society, identity and football(2004) ·Evening Times[Glasgow] (13 March 2006); (14 March 2006); (18 March 2006) ·The Herald[Glasgow] (14 March 2006); (15 March 2006); (17 March 2006); (18 March 2006) ·Daily Record(14 March 2006); (16 March 2006); (18 March 2006) ·The Times(14 March 2006); (24 March 2006) ·Daily Telegraph(14 March 2006) ·The Guardian(14 March 2006) ·The Independent(14 March 2006) ·The Scotsman(15 March 2006); (18 March 2006) ·Sunday Times(19 March 2006)Likenesses: photographs, 1960–2003, Camera Press, London · photographs, 1963–2004, PA Photos, London · B. Thomas, photograph, 1964, Getty Images, London, Bob Thomas Sports · photograph, 1967, Hult. Arch., London · photographs, 1967–74, Photoshot, London · M. l'Anson, mixed media on paper, 2003· statue, 2008, Kerrydale Street, Glasgow · obituary photographs · photographs, Rex Features, London · photographs, repro. in Johnstone,Boots·
Joseph M. Bradley, ‘Johnstone, James Connelly(1944–2006)’,Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2010 [, accessed28 June 2011]James Connelly Johnstone (1944–2006): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/97085

Anecdotes Oxford

Jimmy Johnstone/Bertie Auld - Give me my score back!!!
It is well documented that Jimmy Johnstone did not like flying as evidenced by the Red Star Belgrade tale.

On another occasion when Celtic were on their pre-season tour of USA prior to 1966/67 season which culminated in the magnificent triumph in Lisbon.The team were en route to Bermuda and prior to the flight taking off Bertie Auld had borrowed £20 ( tapped a score as Bertie put it) from Jimmy.

Whilst in mid air the plane got into a bit of heavy turbulence and the passengers including the players were told to stay in their seats and fasten their seat belts which they all duly did.As the pilot struggled to deal with this ongoing situation the next thing anybody knew Jimmy had unbuckled his seat belt, is out of his seat and up the aisle to see Bertie and says to him "Ten!Ten! - Give me my score back just in case"!!!

Although in a serious situation the plane was in uproar at Jimmy's antics as Bertie pointed out to Jimmy if the plane went down he wouldn't have much need for the £20.

*Ten was Bertie Auld' nickname as in "Ten Thirty" rhyming slang for Bertie.

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