Jock Stein: The son of a miner who became a Celtic legend

One-third of Scotland’s legendary managerial trio: What Bill Shankly did for Liverpool and Matt Busby for Manchester United, Jock Stein more than matched for Celtic.

Born the son of a miner on October 5, 1922, in the village of Burnbank: John Stein’s playing career didn’t make the headlines, but what he didn’t achieve on the pitch he certainly did compensated on the bench.

Stein left school at the age of 14 and after working briefly in a carpet factory, he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a coal miner.


It was a job he combined with his great passion in life – working in the mine during the week and playing football at junior level for local club Blantyre Victoria at the weekends.

Tall and well-built, Stein was a fearsome centre-back and gained a reputation as a solid defender, although his playing career was not one for which he will be remembered.

After joining Albion Rovers in 1942 and following a brief stint at Welsh club Llanelli, he signed for Celtic in December 1951, helping them achieve a league and cup double in 1954 before being forced to retire two years later. years later due to injury.

Stein remained at Parkhead and joined the coaching staff, but despite an obvious knack for nurturing young talent, his path to management was blocked, not by his ability on the training ground, but because of his religion.

“I was a non-Catholic. Chairman Robert Kelly therefore thought I had gone as far as possible at a club like Celtic,” Stein later revealed before leaving Celtic to join lowly Dunfermline Athletic.

In his first coaching role, he transformed the fate of the struggling team and, as well as avoiding relegation, led Pars to the Scottish League Cup after beating his former club Celtic. in the final at Hampden Park.

After leaving Dunfermline, Stein had a brief stint at Hibernian before returning to Celtic who, by then, were ready to forget about their religious upbringing and make him their new manager.

In the 1965/66 season, Stein helped the Hoops win their first Scottish Championship for 12 years – the first of nine successive titles – beat Rangers in the League Cup final and reach the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

But it was on the evening of 25 May 1967 that Stein etched his name into Celtic folklore when his side beat Inter Milan in Lisbon to become the first British team to win the European Cup; a feat all the more incredible given that all but one of the 11 players had grown up within a few miles of Parkhead.

He then left as Celtic manager in 1978 to be replaced by their ‘Lisbon Lion’s’ captain, Billy McNeill, before being appointed Scotland manager after the 1978 World Cup, after a brief stint at Leeds United.

He led Scotland to the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain after an astonishing qualifying campaign that saw the side win their group after losing just one game, although his side never failed to make it past the group stage.

Tragically, this will be the only time Stein will manage Scotland at a major tournament. Indeed, during a qualifying match against Wales in Cardiff on September 10, 1985, Stein suffered a heart attack and died in the locker room moments after the match.

As a so-called ‘tracksuit’ manager, Stein was part of the revolutionary approach to football management; he won 25 major trophies in his 13 years in charge of the Hoops – and made Celtic the biggest club in Europe.

But he will also be seen as a trailblazer who paved the way for the likes of Matt Busby, Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Joe Fagan and Alex Ferguson to achieve European glory with British sides in the years that followed.

Celtic are 9/2 to beat RB Leipzig in the Champions League with Betfred*.

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