It is perhaps not so strange that, even if you are lucky enough to get to know your childhood heroes later in life, the memory that lingers longest is that of the distant, otherworldly superstar rather than the simple man with whom conversation was so often shared.
So it was with Stuart McCall and Sandy Jardine. "I remember going to one of the games on the Rangers bus when I was a kid and seeing him," recalls the Motherwell manager, with a slight grin. "I had 'Rangers 9' drawn out - you used to do that back in the day, the sweepstake on the bus - and it was Colin Stein. Big Colin went round the goalkeeper, was about to score and got brought down.
"I was thinking 'well, at least the centre-forward will take the penalty'. Up steps 'Rangers 2', Sandy. My cousin next to me had it, he was jumping up and down. That was my first recollection and it always stuck with me. I remember telling him later he'd lost me a few quid . . .
"From my first season I went there, he made everyone at the club feel so welcome. He was just a truly fantastic human being. I've been back a few times, many times, and he always came up and made you feel welcome.
"He looks after you. I was honoured to be inducted into the Hall of Fame [in February 2008] and I remember Sandy sorting out a table for my family.
"He couldn't do any more for anyone. He'll be a big miss to the club, that's for sure."
Jardine was more than a Rangers player, though he had become synonymous with the club. He spent six years at Hearts, first as a player, then later as joint-manager.
Gary Locke, currently in charge at the club, recalls being starstruck when he first met him. "I grew up watching him play for Hearts, he was assistant manager when I used come here and train as a kid. Sometimes I'd see him and Alex McDonald.
"I looked up to these guys unbelievably, we were so close to pulling off an incredible double in 1986 and they were a huge part of that. He was 37 when he won the player of the year award.
"He was a massive hero to everyone here, we already miss him terribly."
Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, shared the sentiments. "I met him on the odd occasion," he recalled. "He was always immaculate, first of all.
"A gentleman. I liked him and respected him. He was one of those rare breeds that could transcend the Old Firm.
"He was well respected, certainly here. Our condolences go out to his family and close friends. Sixty-five is no age really in this day and age. It's a sad loss, a big loss to Rangers.
"I remember him in my younger days, growing up watching the World Cups, and him being a part of the Scotland squad. He will be remembered as a Rangers legend and rightly so. First and foremost, he was a Rangers man and he carried that off very, very well."