A scene from the life of a hero. "He turned up at my office. He was off the rails. It was nine in the morning and my receptionist said: There is somebody at the front door to see you'. Here was Jimmy with what looked like a bit of cardboard under his arm with a towel wrapped round it. Put it this way, he had been up early, he had had a wee drink. He then threw everything on my table and said: Right, here's all my medals. I want 10 grand'."

The speaker is Willie Haughey, businessman and Celtic fan. It was 1992and his desk was strewn with the finest hours of a football club. Thephysical evidence of nine in a row, Lisbon, Hampden finals was spread among invoices and notes, the detritus of a refrigeration business. Jimmy Johnstone had come to visit.

"I could have broke my heart.

I said to him I'm not giving you 10 grand. I'll help you and I'll safeguard your medals. But I am not giving you money for drink. Iasked him if he wanted a cup of tea. He answered: Is there any champagne?' "

Haughey had to laugh as he surveyed the embodiment of despair shaking before him. Jinky was like that. There was always drama. There was invariably humour.

The business genius had met the football genius. The result? People in Lanarkshire were paid what Johnstone owed and the medals now reside safely at Celtic Park. Haughey would, of course, protest at the word genius' in relation to his business acumen. The evidence suggests he should not. He is a Gorbals boy who hasbuilt City Refrigeration into a business that turns over £230m.

This afternoon he becomes a Jinky fan in public again as he speaks at the unveiling of the statue to the greatest ever Celt outside Parkhead at 12.30pm.

Haughey was central to Johnstone finding a new foothold in life. "If you knew Jimmy in sobriety, well, Jimmy was old-school. He would not offend people. He would respect women, he had values. But when he got a drink in him, all that went out the window," says Haughey.

"I had witnessed some of his outlandish behaviour and I gave him a rollicking. I told him: If I videoed you and showed you your behaviour, you would die of shame'. He was a proud guy and it was hard for him to take. Buta wee light went on."

Johnstone then embarked on a life of some normality, interspersed with moments of madness.

"He was always knocking on doors, trying to sell things," says Haughey, witha chuckle. "The next scheme wouldalways make a million, from finding coal deposits somewhere to developing luminous paint. He used to bring all these mad inventors to my door. It kept him going."

There were times, though, when Johnstone slipped from the path of sobriety. "When I did not hear from him, I would know. Then he would hide. I hounded him, I was the scourge of Jimmy Johnstone," says Haughey.

As the businessman made millions, moving into beautiful offices in the Gorbals just yards from where he was born, he always remained a fan.

He recalls another scene from the Johnstone drama.

"I remember Jinky from the sixties," says Haughey, 52. "I was mesmerised by him. I remember seeing a tape early on of the Alfredo Di Stefano testimonial game in 1967. If people want to get a sense of the magic of Johnstone, then how about this: 100,000 Spaniards shouting ole' as the wee man is taking the mickey out of their heroes. It was amazing.

"Jimmy held the ball for a minute at the end of the game, the fans were going crazy. The final whistle went and Jimmy picked up the ball and booted it into the crowd and it went into the section where the dignitaries were sitting and the crowd erupted because they thought that was deliberate."

Haughey was to meet his hero at close quarters when the businessman became chairman of the Lisbon Lions committee in 1992. "It was a great lesson for me to see such a group of diverse individuals, albeit from similar backgrounds. My God, the loyalty that group had for each other was unbelievable."

Haughey has continued his support for football with £1m annual sponsorship of the Homecoming Scottish Cup. He says he feels he is paying off a debt to those people who ran teams in his youth that kept him "offthe streets".

A more ambitious scheme for a Scottish football academy has been put in cold storage by the refrigeration magnate because of the chilly economic climate. Haughey, too, has been heavily involved in the regeneration of Lesser Hampden.

"When I was a kid growing up here, inthese streets, I used to think I was poor," he says looking out of the windows of his offices at Caledonian House on the South Side. "I then grew up to see people in real poverty. Mymotivation is not about the money. I have one car and one house. But I am making life better for the 10,500 people Iemploy. I like giving people a wage."

The passing of Johnstone has left a bigvoid. "I have taken up golf; I have taken up poker to fill up all the time," hesays.

But what is his final memory of Johnstone?

"You would not want to remember him as how he was at the end," he says of his wee pal who succumbed to motor neurone disease in 2006. "But even then he still had the humour. Me and Ally McCoist went to see him and we came out with our faces streaked with tears of laughter. Rod Stewart visited him and Jimmy told him to stop all that American songbook rubbish and get back to his old stuff. Absolutelypriceless."

It is appropriate, then, that Haughey should recall a Jinky gibe to form the final scene of our meeting.

"When we had all those people in running the club that didn't have a clue, Jimmy, Bertie Auld and Bobby Murdoch were doing the round of the hospitality boxes. It was six at night so they had been at a few boxes sharing the hospitality. They were going along the corridor and a top employee at the club at the time was walking by and he stops and turns and says: Excuse me, gentlemen, who are you?"

Jinky turned and shot back: "We are legends. Who are you?"

The statue of Johnstone will stand opposite that of Brother Walfrid at the entrance to Celtic Park. Haughey says: "Agnes, his wife, says he would love it because it makes him look like a giant."

He could be brought low by alcohol, but, in a hooped jersey he always was, he always was.