WRITING in September 1985, a few days after the sudden death of Jock Stein, the great sportswriter Hugh Mcllvanney spoke about the way in which the power of Stein’s nature “communicated itself to millions of ordinary people”.

Stein’s achievements in football, McIlvanney continued, “were monumental, but they can only partially explain his impact upon and relevance to so many lives. Perhaps he was cherished simply because he was a true working-class hero ...” No-one was ever likely to mistake Stein for a saint, “or even a repository of bland altruism. He could look after himself and his own in the market place or anywhere else, but there was never the remotest danger that he would be contaminated by the materialism that engulfs so many of those who find prosperity through sport or other forms of entertainment.”

Stein had a long and distinguished career as player and manager. In April 1954 (main picture, far right), as Celtic captain, he was photographed with the Scottish Cup, which Celtic had won by beating Aberdeen 2-1 in front of 130,000 fans at Hampden; the victory sealed the double for Celtic. In August 1955, however, Stein picked up an ankle injury. “Return from the ankle injury proved impossible,” reads a Stein tribute on the club’s website, “and he turned to coaching the reserves.” In time, Stein became manager at Dunfermline then at Hibernian, before returning to Celtic Park in 1965. That March (right, top) accompanied by Neil Mochan, Bob Rooney and Sean Fallon. Stein watched as his new charges beat Airdrie 6-0 away from home, with Bertie Auld scoring five of the goals.

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Celtic were about to enter a long and glorious period of success under Stein. “No fewer than ten championships, nine of them all in a row, eight Scottish Cups and six League Cups,” notes the Celtic website, “but perhaps the most significant facet of Stein’s Celtic was that they were feared throughout the length and breadth of Europe.” It was in May 1967 that Stein’s Celtic became the first British club to lift the European Cup, defeating Inter Milan 2-1 in Lisbon.

Stein briefly was manager of Leeds United in 1978 before succeeding Ally MacLeod as Scotland manager. Stein is shown (right, bottom) with Graeme Souness, Davie Cooper and Steve Nicol in 1984.

Stein collapsed and died on September 10, 1985, at Cardiff’s Ninian Park, moments after Cooper had scored a late penalty in a World Cup qualifier against Wales. Scotland reached the Mexico World Cup the following summer. In these pages the morning after Stein’s death, Ian Paul wrote of the man with the Midas touch: “If no football manager can possibly be endowed with the all the qualities the job demands, Stein had more than most. Dedication he had, persistence he had, self-belief he had, and perhaps most important, he possessed the ability to get the best out of the huge assortment of characters that such a sport produces ... He was only truly happy when he was heavily involved in the painful excitement of the national sport. He died doing what he loved.”