BEING pals with the son of a bona fide Celtic legend had its advantages for Gerry Britton as a Hoops-daft youngster, getting to know Lisbon Lions hero Stevie Chalmers through his friendship with his boy, Martin. But when it came to kickabouts down the park, Chalmers junior would usually outshine his buddies in the sartorial stakes.

That was especially true the day that Pele’s strip made an appearance on the playing fields of Bishopbriggs, which came to be in Chalmers’ possession as he swapped jerseys with the Brazilian megastar after scoring Scotland’s goal in a 1-1 draw between the nations in a Hampden friendly in 1966.

The news of Chalmers’ passing yesterday at the age of 83 clearly saddened Britton, now chief executive of Partick Thistle, but it also brought a wry smile to his face as he recalled happy times in the company of the former striker.

“I actually knew Stevie as a family friend as I was at school with his son,” Britton said.

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“I’ve known Stevie since I was a kid and not just as a footballing icon but as a genuinely good guy.

“I remember Martin wearing his dad’s Brazil strip down to the pitch. His son Paul was a really good player, but it was his younger son Martin that I was friendly with.

“Martin was down the pitch with us one day wearing Pele’s strip. Obviously, we didn’t know that at the time, none us had an idea. We just looked at him and said: ‘That’s a nice strip, Martin’.

“That was all fine until Stevie came down to the pitch and took it straight back off him. It was probably worth fortunes.

“My heartfelt sympathies go out to the family and it’s all the more poignant with big Billy [McNeill] passing away last week, too.

“They remind us of the glory and the golden era of Scottish football in the 1960s and 1970s when our clubs were really competing in Europe.

“It helps to bring back great memories, but it doesn’t make it any easier for his family.

“Stevie was a lovely man and a great family man who absolutely loved his golf. That was his life.

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“He was a really, really good golfer as well as a good footballer and he was very unassuming.

“To be fair, the vast majority of players that I have met from that era of the game seem to have that modesty and humility, despite the fact these were guys who were world renowned.

“Some of them were the best players in the world, but they held themselves with such dignity and poise that it was just great to meet them or have any interaction with any of them.”

Meanwhile, former Celtic non-executive director Lord Willie Haughey paid his own tribute to a man he got to know well through the club over the years, recalling his humble nature that gave no hint to the glories of his professional footballing career or his place in Celtic history.

“He was a true gentleman,” said Lord Haughey. “I’ve been involved with the Lisbon Lions for 25 years and I have to say Stevie was one of the easier ones to keep in check.

“It’s very sad news and it is going to be tough for us in the next few days. Like Billy, he’d been struggling for a while and we knew this was coming, but we didn’t know it would happen so soon after Billy’s death.

“He’ll be etched in history because of the goal and no one can ever change that. He was a lovely man to deal with. He was also a fantastic footballer, a total professional who loved the club and gave everything for it with the way he carried himself off it. He was very much like Billy in the way he carried himself off of it and his family should be very very proud with the legacy he left for them.

“He took humble to another level. If you were in Stevie’s company you would never have known he was a footballer, or the man who made history by scoring the winning goal for the first British club to win the European Cup.”