Tributes have flooded in from the world of football for Celtic and Scotland legend Billy McNeill, who has died at the age of 79.

The former captain passed away late yesterday evening surrounded by his family and friends following a prolonged battle with dementia.

READ MORE: Peter Lawwell pays tribute to 'hero and friend' Billy McNeill

The club announced the news on Tuesday morning through a statement from Billy's family.

Scores of fans, football players, politicians journalists alike have paid tribute to the Lisbon Lion, hailing him as a hero and a true gentleman, while Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell said today was the "saddest of days" for the club.

READ MORE: Celtic legend Billy McNeill dies aged 79

Former Celtic star Chris Sutton led the tributes and hailed Billy as an "inspirational leader, a legend and a lion. He posted on Twitter: "Such heartbreaking news. Billy McNeill was an inspirational leader, a legend and a lion. Thoughts go out to his family and the Celtic family."

Responding to Celtic's announcement on Twitter, Liverpool defender and former Celtic star Virgil van Dijk wrote: "🙏"

Former Celtic winger Paddy McCourt also expressed his sadness following the news.

He tweeted: "Terribly sad news today regarding Billy McNeill ‘ without doubt one of the most inspirational Celtic players of all time.I would meet him occasionally in and around Celtic Park & he was always the gentleman.Thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends. Rest In Peace Billy"

Ex-Celtic star and Evening Times columnist John Hartson said: "Sad news the Great Billy Mcneill has passed away.. a true Giant of the game, Leader and inspirational figure.. RIP Big Man thoughts are with the Mcneill family at this sad time"

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described McNeill as a "giant of Scottish football". She tweeted: "Very sorry to hear of the passing of Billy McNeill, a giant of Scottish football. The tributes from across the game today speak volumes about the affection in which he was held"

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "Word legend often over-used but in this context it hardly seems adequate. Sad news of Billy McNeill's passing, he was a true giant of the game. Immortalised by that iconic image of him lifting the European Cup. He also spoke bravely about his battle with dementia."

The Times' Chief Football writer Henry Winter tweeted: "A true footballing legend and a gentleman. RIP"

Scottish broadcaster and BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast host Nicky Campbell tweeted the famous photograph of Billy lifting the European Cup in 1967 with the caption "RIP Billy McNeil A gentleman."

A number of Scottish and English clubs also posted condolence messages on their Twitter accounts.