The room was appointed with mementos and souvenirs from a past life.

A medal, a cap, some rare photographs, newspaper cuttings, scrap albums filled with the fresh face of a colt, a pair of football boots and some jerseys in boxes.

A few years ago, I sat down with John Divers in a flat belonging to his son, Barry, an Advocate in Glasgow. The flat was the mirror in which the football life of his father was reflected. Tangible reminders of his father's existence, and proof that, while many others may forget about him, the strong, unbreakable and often flawed bond that exists between father and son will always be there.

John Divers played for Celtic. As did his father, John Divers Sr, and Patsy Gallacher, his father's uncle. Three men from the same bloodline, who between them played more than 1000 games and scored more than 400 goals for Glasgow Celtic. All were inside forwards and all were members of a long football family DNA strand that ended earlier this week with the passing of John Divers, aged 74.

While John and I talked, his silver blue eyes and his blend of the stoic, serious and circumspect immediately struck me: a man who never lets football distort life's other priorities. The kind of man who didn't have too many sins in the cupboard - except, perhaps, occasionally singing too loudly in church.

Divers, one of the 'Kelly Kids' who came up through the Celtic ranks in the late 1950s, eased himself into a comfortable leather sofa. The spring was gone from his step, in its place a stilted gait. His right leg was 2¾ inches shorter than the left. The head of the femur, the thighbone, was disappearing further and further inside him. His hip cartilage was all worn away. His career in football was, literally, consuming him.

Divers was at Celtic between 1957 and 1966, and scored more than 100 goals, including the first goal that put Celtic on the way to their nine-in-a-row success. His father joined Celtic from Renfrew Juniors in 1932; he helped to win two league titles in the 1930s and was also the creative mastermind behind Celtic's victory in the Empire Exhibition Cup of 1938, when they beat Everton 1-0 in the final. The victory made Celtic unofficial British champions.

The legendary Patsy Gallacher, his great uncle, went on to play for Celtic for 15 years, featuring in 569 games in all competitions and scoring 192 goals. "But Patsy was never the hero," said Divers. "No. It was all very low-key in the family. Patsy was just my granny's young brother, who played football. Just a young man out working." Gallacher died in 1953 when Divers was 12. "I don't remember much about him. We never had conversations about Celtic. But he did with my father."

Ask Divers a question and he doesn't really want to answer it. You have to haul it to the surface. Then again, you can detect a lot more through silence than words.

There were limits, he always believed, to the value of football. It was a bigger deal to have raised children - Barry and Jonathan - and to have made himself a new career after sport. He went to university and became a teacher. We returned, a little reluctantly, to football.

"I can't honestly say I had big conversations with my own father about Celtic," said Divers. "I never even saw him at my games when I was younger. Occasionally, he saw me when I was senior. He would just say, 'how did you do today?' That was it."

Divers Sr came from Clydebank. His wife came from Ireland. He was a riveter's hauder-on in John Brown's shipyards. When the rivets were being hammered in, he stood behind the metal plates, bracing his body while the hammer battered the rivet in. Physically, it was very hard. But his athletic skills meant he would not always be doomed to hard, manual labour.

The shipyards were where he learned his uncompromising toughness that he used to great effect in the 1938 New Year's Day Old Firm game, which Celtic won 3-0, with Divers scoring twice in front of the largest ever crowd at Celtic Park - 83,500. He left Celtic for Morton in 1945. He died, aged 72, in 1984.

"It would be easy to say 'yes, I felt I was in the shadow of my father', but I didn't. If I had played against him I think he would have beaten me. I used to wonder if anyone shouted to him, 'you'll never be as good as your uncle'."

Years later, while he was playing professionally, he remembers his father saying, "It's okay just now but wait till they don't have any need for you. Don't get carried away, don't be a big man playing for Celtic."

The first game Divers Jr played for Celtic was in 1957, against St Mirren, when he was 17. Just weeks after Celtic thrashed Rangers 7-1.

"I was nervous about playing a first-team game, but maybe doubly nervous because I was playing alongside the guys who had just beaten Rangers 7-1," he said.

He scored in the 21st minute in a game ending 2-2. "I felt quite embarrassed, to be honest. I didn't know what to do.

"I was playing with all these legendary Celtic figures - Bobby Evans, Bertie Peacock, John McPhail and Neil Mochan - and scoring a goal. I remember the following day standing outside chapel after mass. People looking at me." Divers would go on to score 102 goals for Celtic in 232 appearances.

Between 1958 and 1965, just before the team's glory years, he earned a League Cup winners' medal and a Scottish Cup runners-up medal and also played three matches for the title-winning side of 1965-66. He would happily have swapped goals for medals.

Jock Stein had arrived back at Celtic in 1965 and the first game Celtic won was 4-0 against Dundee United, which started the consecutive campaign. "It would have been terrific to have been part of the team that won nine-in-a-row," he laments. "But I scored the first goal that kicked off that season against Dundee United. I'm clutching at straws now."

When Divers was 19 he nearly had to give up the game after he was diagnosed with an occlusion (narrowing) of an artery in both legs, but particularly in the left.

"I remember the surgeon brought me along to his office and put up the X-rays. I can still remember him saying to me: 'What age are you? 19? You may be 19 but your legs are 70. I have never ever seen anything like this in one as young. I hope you have another career'.

"Dr John Fitzsimmons, the Celtic club doctor, said to me at his surgery, 'That's dynamite. No-one at Celtic Park is to see that [the medical report]'. It was like going about with heavy divers boots on my legs. 'Ach, Divers is too slow', people would say. That was the reason. But, like my father said before me, 'far, far greater people have suffered more than I have'."

In May 1966, he left Celtic under little fanfare for Partick Thistle. "Quite honestly, my career had ended. The last two years at Celtic Park, I played a total of 20 games. I played 12 games in the season before Big Jock [Stein] came. I was struggling for fitness."

He talked of the end of his career with a sense of relief. Even decades later, it felt like a weight had been lifted. "You look at all the Celtic players who have achieved great things. They did it. I have done none of that. Therefore you feel a wee bit, in the football world, that you didn't achieve. I suppose I was part of it, I know people that did it and I was around."

I asked him about highlights. "The day I got engaged," he said, with barely a pause. He got engaged to Elizabeth Kennedy and married her on June 26, 1963 at St Peter's Church, in Hamilton.

It was the same day as Billy McNeill married his wife, Liz. In those days, Robert Kelly, the Celtic chairman, did not allow players to get married during the season. John Hughes sang This Is My Special Day at Divers' wedding.

He remained powerful friends with McNeill, Mike Jackson, Hughes and Paddy Crerand. The wealth in his life from these friendships was originally forged on grass pitches.

He played football for 12 years, nine with Celtic, before a career in education beckoned and he went to Strathclyde University. He'd been a teacher for more than 30 years, much of that time at Our Lady and St Patrick's High in Dumbarton, formerly St Patrick's High and Notre Dame High, where he was principal teacher of guidance and economics - "And nobody ever wants to talk about that time." He was also a member of the Bronte Society, along with Elizabeth, and a regular visitor to Yorkshire. Life was sweet and the crises were small.

When John Divers talked it was with words that hinted of autumn. Nothing boastful, just old, quiet memories of games and the thrill of the grass. That's all football is, really.

John Divers played for Celtic and not everyone remembers. But, sometimes, the best memories are always whispered.