IT was almost impossible to stop Willie Wallace in his prime and it’s far from an easy task now when this Lion, legend and all-round good bloke is in full flow.

This icon of Celtic, Hearts and Scottish football is 78, can you believe that, and life has been good to him. You would place him in his early sixties, which is what living on Australia’s Gold Coast for 40 or so years does, and he’s as razor sharp now as he was in front of goal.

Inside Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, where next Monday he takes part in a Q&A with old chum Jim Craig, Wallace is brilliant company, absolutely without ego when he has ever right to have one to challenge Donald Trump's, and he’s got some interesting things to say.

Modern football, his old clubs, a potential title race this season and the merits (or not) of Brendan Rodgers are all dealt with. It’s a terrific blether.

"Rodgers has his own ideas for doing things. A lot of them are not my ideas,” says Wallace whose accent is still solidly Kirkintiloch. “My idea is to get a settled side and play them week-in, week-out. Not having players sitting on the bench waiting for Wednesday. That's like having a big car in the garage but taking the mini out all the time. You leave the big car until the day it doesn't rain.

"Looking at it, Celtic play zonal marking at the back. I played against it often enough to know it doesn't work. Italian sides used it for many years and as soon as you move out of a defender's area, they are lost. They can't cross that line and go into the space.

"When I was at Celtic, the back four never changed. In midfield, it was normally the same. Up front, things were juggled about but that's an area where you create. We had goals from all over the pitch - seven or eight potential scorers.

"I watch this Celtic team take corners and there are times when nobody is at the back post. Big Cesar or one of us would always be there for the ball coming over to the back. Nine times out of ten, you would get header back across goal or have a chance yourself. Nobody seems to go to the back post anymore.”

What the Celtic manager would give for a player for Wallace’s talents. Make that any manager. ‘Wispy’ was world class.

He’s one of the all-time great Hearts players, scoring over 100 goals for one the Edinburgh club’s greatest sides, before Jock Stein bought the inside forward for £30,000 in 1966, which was rather timely, as a replacement for the injured Joe McBride.

What followed was remarkable.

Wallace scored 135 goals in 234 games, was a star in Lisbon, won seven leagues titles and many, many other cups. Not bad a for a Rangers fan, eh.

“If you join Celtic as a player and are quite successful you become a Celtic supporter,” said Wallace. And he speaks with as much passion as any fan about what is most definitely his club. Tom Rogic should look away now.

“I don't think there are any guarantees for Celtic this year,” said Wallace when asked about this season. “Even Real Madrid are finding it hard to win games right now.

"Clubs work out a system and the players fit into it. But then some move on and the others don't always fit in. Sometimes it just doesn't work. Stuart Armstrong was a worker but I liked him beside Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham, who isn't a bad little player. That would have been my midfield but it keeps changing now.

"Big Rogic...I have watched him a long time and I'd beat him a race - even today. The big guy's thing was indoor soccer. That goal he scored to win the Scottish Cup against Aberdeen was what he would do in futsal.

"He's a good enough player put him out there when he has to look at the big picture? To me he's not at the races.

“Ach, maybe I am looking things the way I did when I played at Celtic We wanted to achieve everything. We were cheeky arseholes from Scotland, not the glamour guys.

"But we wanted to win the European Cup. Now we have a manager who says we can't win it. For me, as a Celtic supporter, I think that's crap. I know that it's a dream but I want to at least see them try.

"When the attitude is, 'We don't need to win...the gaffer doesn't expect us to win anyway'...that's not for me. Is that him being just being realistic? We were all realistic in 1967. We went down that tunnel in Lisbon and looked at the film stars next to us. We could have said, 'Why are we going out there?' But if you think that, you'd be better staying in the dressing room?”

While a Jambo, Wallace and his Hearts side lose the league by 0.04 of a goal – that’s right – to Kilmarnock who they actually they played at Tynecastle on the final day of the 1964/65 season. How does anyone get over that?

“A sad thing about that day, something which sticks in my mind even to this day, is we had a little guy playing for us, Roald Jensen, a Norwegian lad who was a tricky player, and he hit the post in the last few seconds of that game,” he recalls.

“I can see it now. It was at the Gorgie Road end. I thought it was in but here the ball hits the post and stayed out. There was nobody there to knock it in and it was in the 91st minute or something – and in those days they didn’t play injury time.

“That is the only thing which sticks in my mind. Why wasn’t I there to stick the ball in the back of the net? I don’t know.

“The atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was total disbelief. We were so far in front of them. We had 90 goals and they scored 62 and it was 0.04 of a goal. That was the final decision. But that was the rule in those days. Ach, like everything else there is a lot of heartache but there’s also a lot of joy.”

That there was. Wallace went on to play for many other clubs and was Tommy Gemmell’s assistant at Dundee and then in 1979 retired to Australia for good where he had spent time as a player after a miserable incident.

“I was at Dumbarton, living in Condorrat, and the oldest girl went to school, the Protestant school, but her daddy used to play for Celtic so she used to come home with her legs black and blue from other kids kicking her. She was five. I got the opportunity to go out there and took it.”

The interview is over and then a few more stories, utterly unprintable, come out when tape recorders are switched to off. Willie Wallace, I’m delighted to say, remains in superb form.

An Evening with Lisbon Lions - Willie Wallace & Jim Craig takes place on Monday October, 15 at 7.30PM

Part of Glasgow Concert Halls. Tickets - £52 (VIP), £22 & £17