10. Billy McNeill 1940-
Show me your medals: Won Scottish league nine times, Scottish Cup seven times, Scottish League Cup six times. Oh, and one European Cup winner's medal. Played for Scotland 29 times.
Class is permanent: There are various measurements for greatness. Billy McNeill stands as a pillar of Scottish football not because of his ability, though he was a commanding centre-half with a useful penchant of scoring important goals, most pertinently the winner in Jock Stein's first cup final as Celtic manager and the decider against a resilient Vojvodina en route to the European Cup. McNeill, though, was bigger than any position. He was the leader of a group of winners. Brought up under the discipline of a Forces father, McNeill was strong but always dignified.
His massive medal haul is the stock for a story that tells much of the man. Once asked at a party in his home to show his medals, McNeill asked one of his daughters to bring down "the poly bags that are behind the wardrobe". He then spread out the rewards of an era of domination on to a coffee table. Asked why he did not have those testimonies to overwhelming success on more prominent show, McNeill replied: "I want my kids to know me as a father, not a football player."
His faithfulness to the club – he dismissed the offers of moves to such as Tottenham Hotspur – was rewarded by his role in the club's greatest triumph. The photograph of McNeill, chest puffed out, holding up the European Cup is an image that will never fade. He was recently made an ambassador for the club but that was merely an official acceptance of a role he had fulfilled for an era. A figure of substance, he is also a personality of abiding humility.
View from the terracing: Is that a congenital deformity? Whit's that? He seems to have a cup permanently attached to the end of his arms.
9. Willie Woodburn 1919-2001
Show me your medals: With Rangers, four titles, four Scottish Cups, two League Cups. Capped 24 times.
Class is permanent: Woodburn is the player who brought Latin into football. His sine die (without days) suspension was effectively a lifetime ban from the game, although it was lifted in 1957, three years after it was imposed. After receiving the ban on September 14, 1954, Woodburn never played football again and he was condemned to be remembered by some because of his sentence rather than his prowess.
This is a legacy of considerable irony because Woodburn, a candidate for best Rangers centre-half ever, was a defender who moved easily and was quick to find a colleague with a pass rather than to clear with undue haste. He had the normal prerequisites of the centre-half of the era in that he was excellent in the air and combative around the park but was also able to launch attacks with both the accuracy and timing of his passes. An elegant obituary in The Herald stated of his playing style: "His hallmark was the short, choppy stride, a gait that which always gave the impression that he was operating well within himself."
He was good enough to force George Young to move to right back and was part of the Iron Curtain of Brown, Young, Shaw, McColl, Woodburn and Cox. He was a one-club man, joining Rangers in 1937 from juvenile football and playing for the Ibrox club until his sentence was imposed. The Herald obituary ended with brilliance: "He fulfilled the essential requirement of a great player – close your eyes and at once you see him clearly."
View from the terracing: What's the Latin for 'it's a liberty'?
8. John Greig 1942-
Show me your medals: European Cup-Winners' Cup winner, won Scottish title five times, Scottish Cup six times, League Cup three times. Capped 44 times.
Class is permanent: The GER. The Greatest Ever Ranger. He played 857 matches for the club and was never accused of going missing in any of them. An Edinburgh man, he became identified with the club over the decades but his image became uniformly that of a hard man. This did great disservice to his ability. He was an inside forward before moving back to right-half or right-back and could complement his abrasive tackling with perceptive passing and goals. Ironically, his most remembered goal may be his effort that won a World Cup qualifying match against Italy at Hampden in November 1965. This came after a typically lung-bursting run and assured shot.
Greig excelled for the club in good times and bad and became almost a personification of a Rangers spirit. He is honoured by a statue outside Ibrox that pays tribute to the 66 victims of the disaster at the stadium in 1971. Greig was a player, manager and director of the club but he will surely be remembered as a captain. His biggest trophy win was the European Cup-Winners' Cup but he regularly stepped up to lift the results of an irresistible team performance marked by his indefatigable leadership. In personal life, he is modest, with a wry humour but he remains one of the great examples of a player who mixed heart and skill to drag his team-mates to victory. It may seem absurd given his achievements to say he was under-rated but he was in terms of his technical accomplishments.
View from the terracing: Ibrox to Mrs Greig: "Bad news. John is coming home with a broken leg." Mrs Greig to Ibrox: "Whose is it?"
7. Gordon Smith 1924-2004
Show me your medals: Won Scottish title five times (three with Hibernian, one with Hearts and one with Dundee), one League Cup (with Hearts). Won 18 caps.
Class is permanent: Read this, dear reader, and weep salt tears. Gordon Smith played in two European Cup semi-finals, one with Hibernian and the other with Dundee. He remains the only player to have won the Scottish league championship title with three different clubs. A slight figure, he carries the added burden in this list of being the representative of the Famous Five.
Smith showed great resilience in his career, playing with Hibs for 18 years, and coming back from two leg breaks. He was of an era when ball-playing wingers were the idols of the crowd and the targets for what would now be considered assaults by opponents. He thus had to contend with a number of injuries in addition to his leg breaks. Ankle injuries dogged him, and led to his departure from Hibs on a free transfer.
Smith, though, endured to captivate another side of the capital at Hearts and then enjoy a late renaissance with a fine Dundee side. He scored more than 300 goals in his career though he was best known as a creator. His longevity was such that he started his career during the Second World War yet played with Alan Gilzean, who won medals in the 1970s. He brought goals and success to very club he played for and that is surely a measure of greatness.
View from the terracing: Same old Gordon, always winning.
6. Graeme Souness 1953-
Show me your medals: With Middlesborough, he won second division title; with Liverpool, he won three European Cups, five English titles, three league cups; with Rangers he won three titles and four League Cups as player/manager. Capped 54 times.
Class is permanent: He made his mark on football . . . and footballers. It is one of the minor tragedies of the operatic life of Souness that he may be remembered by his predilection to extract pain from opponents rather than his sublime ability. He had the strength to survive in the torrid midfields of his era but he also had the craft to excel. Equally accomplished at playing it long and short, he had an intuitive ability to pick the best option under pressure.
He grew under the tutelage of Bobby Murdoch at Middlesborough and became the most influential midfielder of his time. He was integral to the ethos and style of Liverpool and was part of a Scottish backbone to a wonderful team that garnered three European Cups. There was a chilling pragmatism about Souness but there was also a beauty in the precision of his pass and the accuracy of his shot.
As a player/manager at Rangers, his impact on the game in Scotland was huge and wide-ranging. Some may recall his ruthlessness in tackle and decisions, others may focus on his articulacy in football debate but he was, above all, a player of prodigious gifts and inexhaustible will and drive.
View from the terracing: There Will Be Blood.
Saturday: The Top Five in our list of the 50 Greatest Scottish Footballers