Jock Stein 1922-1985

John Stein was born in Burnbank, Hamilton, on 5 October 1922. He grew up to become a miner in the Lanarkshire coalfield where earned his living until 1950.

Extracts from the accompanying The Greatest Scot television programme are being added to these biographical notes as the programme is broadcast between November 9 and 13. If you live outside the UK, you will not be able to see these, but you may enjoy other videos about some of the subjects which are available via links in the text. Here for example is some vintage video of Jock being interviewed in 1972.

His first football club was Burnbank Athletic in 1938 but his father did not like the way the club had secured his signature and he never played for them. So he joined Blantyre Victoria instead. Mining was a protected occupation during the war and Stein was able to continue playing, joining Albion Rovers in Coatbridge, in November 1942. He stayed with them, apart from a brief loan to Dundee United, until May 1950. By then he had a wife and family, having married Jeanie McAuley in 1946.

Despite this, he headed for his first full-time football job with non-league Welsh club Llanelli. Unhappy away from his family in Scotland, Jock, as he was now known, returned a year later to coach the Celtic reserve team. An injury to two of the regular first-team players, however, gave him a place in the senior squad which he never relinquished until forced to do so by injury in January 1957.

Although he lacked speed, and was left-sided, his height made him strong in the air, and his ability to read the game made him an effective centre half who was particularly effective at wrapping up opposing forwards. He also brought his long experience to a Celtic team which was recovering from a poor spell on the field. Although it had several star players who helped to take it to mixed success in domestic competition and outstanding success in the two international competitions it entered in this period (1951 and 1953), the team Stein played for (and captained from 27 December 1952) never reached the heights of those he later managed.

When Stein's playing career ended, he moved into managment with Dunfermline Athletic in March 1960. There, he turned around the fortunes of the struggling club, saving it from relegation and then seeing it through to a cup final victory against Celtic in 1961. He took over as manager of Edinburgh's Hibernian on 1 April 1964 but after a  successful year, he was enticed back to Celtic on 9 March 1965 as manager.

Within two years, Stein had already taken Celtic to undreamed of heights which have yet to be matched. In his twelve full seasons as manager, in addition to the European cup, Celtic went on to win ten league championships, eight Scottish cups, and six league cups. Inevitably his name remains linked to the famous Lisbon Lions, a team whose most expensive player cost the club a mere £28,000, and all of whom were born within a 40 mile radius of Glasgow. This was the team that won the European cup of 1967 with a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan at the Estoril Stadium (Estadio Nacional) in Lisbon on 25 May 1967, the first British side to do so.

Stein lived for football and the players under his care, skilfully managing such wayward geniuses as Jimmy Johnstone and constantly planning new strategies. His Lisbon Lions, in addition to winning the European cup in 1967 and being losing finalists in 1970, won a record nine successive Scottish league championships from 1966 to 1974.

Although Celtic was founded by a monk and continues to be associated with an Irish-Catholic background, Stein famously was a Protestant. He bestrode the sectarian divide in the city with great dignity, never aligning himself with either side  He was also a strict teetotaller and non-smoker.

Nevertheless, his obsession with football took its toll and he suffered his first heart attack in 1973. In 1975 he was almost killed when he was driving a car that was involved in a head-on collision; Stein was totally absolved from responsibility. He was never quite the same powerhouse after this. After a brief spell with Leeds United from 21 August to 4 October 1978, he accepted the position of manager of the national team. In this position he took Scotland to the world cup finals in Spain in 1982 and to the brink of the world cup finals in Mexico in 1986. Stein died of a heart attack at Ninian Park, Cardiff, on 10 September 1985, just thirty minutes after his team had all but qualified for Mexico with a 1-1 draw against Wales.

Although only an average player, as a manager Stein was the equal of his legendary compatriots Matt Busby and Bill Shankly. He also shared with them the personal experience that playing football was a much cushier job than a life down the mines. To the fans, Stein remained a giant figure, the Big Man. At Celtic Park the Jock Stein lounge was named in his honour, as was the west stand which completed the renovations of Celtic Park in the summer of 1998.

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