TRIBUTES have poured in for Celtic legend Billy McNeill who died last night aged 79. 

His family confirmed earlier the sad news that the Lisbon Lion captain had passed away following a two year battle with Dementia.

Cumnock Chronicle: Billy McNeill leads out the Celtic team before the 1967 European Cup final against Inter Milan in Lisbon.

McNeill led Celtic to nine successive titles, seven Scottish Cups and six Leauge Cups over 882 appearances spanning 19 years. 

He was a one club player, never taking off the green and white hoops.

But it was a famous victory over Inter Milan in 1967 that topped it all off as McNeill became the first Briton to lift the European cup. 

As well as being a legend on the park, McNeill added to his trophy collection as Celtic boss. 

Over two spells he clinched four titles and four cups. He also managed Clyde, Aberdeen, Manchester City and Aston Villa.

Kind words have been said from across Ayrshire with local football clubs and supporters clubs all paying tribute to as Scottish football mourns the loss of a 'giant'. 

Ayrshire Clubs react 

Ayr United shared a post on social media expressing their sadness at today's news. 

The post read: "Ayr United wishes to add to the tributes being paid to former @CelticFc and Scotland captain Billy McNeill - a giant of Scottish football. 

"Our toughts are with Billy's family, friends and teammates at this sad time." 

Cumnock Chronicle:

Cumnock Juniors said: "The committee, staff and players of Cumnock Juniors are saddened to learn of the death of Celtic legend Billy McNeil.

"Everyone at Cumnock Juniors sends their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr McNeil."

Cumnock Chronicle:

Kilmarnock FC, also expressed their thoughts on the passing of a "Scottish football icon." 

Cumnock Chronicle:

Local supporters mourn loss of their idol 

Today Celtic fans are mourning the loss of one of their all time icons, arguably the greatest ever Celt.

Ayr Emerald Celtic Supporters club shared a picture of the famous moment that Billy McNeill lifted the European cup in 1967. 

They added a simple message saying: "God Bless Billy McNeill. True Legend. HH Caesar. RIP." 

Cumnock Chronicle:

Dean McMillan who helped with the campaign to get a statue of fellow Lisbon Lion Bobby Lennox in Saltcoats said: "He's a massive icon in Scottish football. He was also a very person close friend to Bobby Lennox. 

Cumnock Chronicle: 15/10/16 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP . CELTIC v MOTHERWELL (2-0) . CELTIC PARK - GLASGOW . A general view of the Billy McNeill statue.

"I never got to see him play, but I would always watch clips on youtube of him playing him etc. 

"My family are very fond of him. 

"My pappa was one of the ones to help him through the crowd when he won the European Cup. 

" I remember meeting him (Billy McNeill) and getting his signature. I was really young at the time to remember much else, but for me I can't disagree with anyone he's definitely the greatest ever Celtic player." 

Rivalry put aside 

Rangers fans also today paid their respects to Billy McNeill. 

An Ayrshire Rangers supporters group in Ayr and Prestwick paid their respects.

Gus Oakley of the group said: "Billy McNeill was a legend; the divide doesn’t count when it comes to a player like him.

"He stood up for his club, he was straight down the middle and he was a gentleman.

"You won’t hear anyone say a bad word about him, that’s just the kind of guy he was."

The Ibrox club shared a tribute to McNeill on social media. 

Cumnock Chronicle:

The scculptor of Cesar 

What has today become the focal point of tributes outside Celtic Park, the statue of Billy McNeill will forever look over the famous ground the legend enjoyed 19 years at. 

The Ayrshire based designer of the magnificent statue showing McNeill lifting up the European Cup today honoured the Libson Lion with a poignant tribute including pics of Billy standing next to finished statue.

Jonh McKenna posted on Facebook:"Sad news to hear that Celtic legend Billy McNeill passed away.

"It was lovely to meet him, his wife Liz and his family, he came and checked the claywork over a few times whilst I made the bronze statue of him for the Parkhead football stadium. 

"Rest in Peace Billy McNeill."

Cumnock Chronicle:

A giant of football 

Ayrshire Weekly Press reporters have also reacted to today's news. 

Our cheif sports reporter Stewart McConnell had the honour of meeting the late, great Billy McNeill more than two decades ago. And the former Celtic skipper made a lasting impression on him.

Cumnock Chronicle: Legend: Billy McNeill hoists the European Cup above his head in 1967.

Stewart said: "I had the pleasure of meeting Billy at a sportsman's dinner organised by Saltcoats Victoria FC.

"He was speaking alongside another Celtic legend Murdo MacLeod and little did I know that would be the only time I would meet the legendary Lisbon Lion."

"Billy had great memories of his time at the top but was never boastful, nor swallowed up by his own legend and always respectful of opponent, who in turn recognised his greatness.

"While acknowledging he as a bit part of the team's success he would always name check others and credit them. 

"The supporters were valued by Billy, who conceded they would be nothing without him.

"As a pundit he spoke knowledgeably about football and his speech that night was peppered with some brilliant one-liners. 

"As part of a Celtic team all from the west of Scotland, we may never see his likes again.

Billy McNeill was a giant of Scottish football,  indeed world football, in every sense of the word."

Cumnock Chronicle: Celtic captain Billy McNeill with the European Cup in Lisbon in 1967.

Our reporter Matt Bryan also had the honour of meeting Billy McNeill. 

Matt said: "I was lucky enough to meet Billy on a few occasions, and he always just an aura about him - every fan young and old had the utmost respect for what he did and the devotion he had for his club.

"He had so much time for every supporter and always had a joke with us when we met him.

"I later played football with Billy's grandson for a bit and you can see his whole family looked up to him as well.

"Just a great leader on and off the field, we've lost an all-time legend of the game."

Dementia Fight 

Today Alzheimer Scotland also expressed their sadness towards the news of Billy McNeill's passing and encouraged those who know anyone who are suffering to access their services.

Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive, Henry Simmons, said: “We are saddened to hear the news today about former footballer Billy McNeill and our thoughts are with his family and friends.

“With over 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland, Alzheimer Scotland has a clear goal – to make sure that nobody faces dementia alone.

"Anyone living with dementia can access our wide-ranging, community-focused, therapeutic support, including our sports based reminiscence sessions.

If you are concerned about dementia, or would like to find out about help or support in your local area, call Alzheimer Scotland’s Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or visit