Joe Didn't Make It to the Final but He Is Still a True Lisbon Lion; JOE McBRIDE: PASSING OF CELTS LEGEND JOE McBRIDE: PASSING OF LEGEND

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Byline: HUGH KEEVINS

LISBON LION John Clark last night led the tributes to Celtic goalscoring legend Joe McBride who died, aged 74, on Wednesday night.

The striker never let bitterness affect him after missing the 2-1 European Cup Final victory over Inter Milan in 1967 due to injury, despite that game making 11 of his team-mates immortals.

Clark, part of Neil Lennon's backroom team, will leave Celtic's pre-season tour of Germany and return to Glasgow on Monday for the funeral of the man who had a better goals-per-game ratio than Henrik Larsson.

Speaking from the club's training camp near Munich, Clark said: "I was told before we left that I might need to go back home as Joe was so seriously ill.

"His loss is a great sadness for the Celtic family and a tragedy for his own son, Joe junior, and daughter, Julie.

"I went to see him last Sunday before we left for Germany and tried to shake his hand to see if I could get any response but there was none.

"Bertie Auld was with me at Joe's house and I spoke to him right after his death was announced on Wednesday night and he was very upset.

"We'd known Joe for 47 years, he was like a brother to us and we feel for his family."

INJURY McBride had already scored 35 goals in 26 games in the season Celtic won every domestic trophy and the European Cup by beating Inter in Lisbon.

But a Christmas Eve knee injury in a game against Aberdeen ended his season and cost him his place in history as a Lisbon Lion.

Clark added: "Joe was at the final with us even though he didn't play in the match. Those who did play felt a sense of disappointment for him, but he liked to mix with people and was a great ambassador for the club. He was what would be known as a box player in the modern terminology. We just got the ball into that area and Joe did the business.

"He finished top scorer that season despite being out since Christmas. You wonder how many he'd have scored had he played the whole season.

"And if you were looking for a friend off the park, Joe was the guy everyone went to because he was the kind of character you wanted around you."

Auld, has been left broken by the news. He said: "I visited Joe in hospital at the start of the week and was willing him to pull through. When I was told he had passed away I was shattered.

"Joe and I were in Ireland not long ago and he looked fine. That's why this has come as such a shock. I have lost a good, trusted and loyal friend. The world is a sadder place for his absence. He was a gentleman who went out of his way to help everyone.

"It was a real shame he missed out playing in our European Cup-winning team after suffering that injury at Aberdeen. Remarkably, he had already scored 35 goals at that stage."

Auld, 74, also praised the immense courage of his former colleague. He said: "That injury ended his season. …