BOBBY Murdoch, one of the Lisbon Lions who helped Celtic lift the

European Cup in 1967, has scored another historic victory by winning his

off-field battle to prove that an ankle injury he suffered in 1962 was

an industrial accident.

The decision by the Medical Appeal Tribunal, which has immense

ramifications for football, means Mr Murdoch can now sue his former

employers, Celtic, for compensation. It also opens the floodgates for

countless other injured footballers whose careers have been similarly

blighted to seek financial redress from their former clubs.

The way is also intriguingly paved for players such as Paul Elliott,

another former Celtic player, who lost a high-profile damages action

against Dean Saunders in the High Court in London for an injury that

ended his career, to take a different road for compensation.

For Mr Murdoch, the decision means he will receive thousands of pounds

in payments from the Department of Social Security which will be

backdated for 33 years.

Mr Murdoch said yesterday at his home in Rutherglen: ''I'm delighted

to have won. I now intend to raise an action against Celtic Football

Club and their insurers.

''I still love the club and have no wish to harm them but they were my

employers and their insurance company must be held liable. It might also

help other footballers.''

The injury on which Mr Murdoch based his case followed an accidental

clash with Hearts goalkeeper Gordon Marshall, the father of the current

Celtic keeper. Mr Murdoch was taken off on a stretcher and was out for

three weeks with torn ligaments. After the injury, he said he had

''missed a hell of a lot of games''.

He left Celtic in 1973 to join Middlesbrough as a player-coach, where

he stayed for nine years. He has not worked since then because of the

effects of the ankle injury, which he said philosophically was ''just

one of those things''.

Mr Murdoch was helped to fight his case by Mr Peter Mullen, who runs

Glencoats Training and Advisory Service in Paisley.

Mr Mullen, who became involved after hearing of Mr Murdoch's plight

when sharing a table with him at a boxing match, said: ''This is a major

breakthrough. Mr Murdoch has won back payment from the DSS but more

importantly the green light for a much bigger claim against the


''This will open the floodgates for hundreds of footballers who have

received injuries.''

Mr Mullen said he would now be championing the case of another former

Celtic player, John McCluskey, who had been injured playing a European

tie for the Parkhead club.

Mr Mullen said: ''The incident happened in 1976 when John was 17. Not

long after the incident, he was given a #2000 pay-off and he hasn't

worked since. His case is now in the hands of the DSS.''

Mr Murdoch's lawyer, Mr Terence Ruddy, of Peter McCann & Co

Solicitors, of Glasgow, said: ''We are delighted with the result. This

is a historic victory and means we can go ahead with our claim against

Celtic's insurers, as it has been proved it was an industrial injury.

''This is the first of its kind and will open up a new chapter of

claims. We do have other people involved but we cannot disclose their

names without their permission.''

Mr Ruddy said the DSS had not arrived at a final assessment about the

money due to Mr Murdoch. ''Even if it had, we could not disclose the

amount,'' he said.

Mr Ruddy's feelings about the victory were echoed by Tony Higgins,

secretary of the Scottish Professional Footballers' Association, which

Bobby Murdoch helped found.

He said: ''We too are delighted. This decision means a lot of

footballers in similar circumstances will be able to pursue claims.

''A hell of a lot of ex-players like Bobby Murdoch can relate back to

a specific injury after which they were never quite the same.''

Mr Higgins added that it was his ''guestimate'' that at least five

players retire each season because of a specific injury.

Celtic declined to comment. However, it is believed that they

understand Mr Murdoch's position. Mr Murdoch is still a popular figure

at the club and was a guest at the recent friendly against Newcastle