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Scottish winger who became a Celtic legend during the Jock Stein era. Johnstone's fiery temperament often got him into trouble, but combined with natural talent on the pitch to make him one of the most feared wingers of his generation.
Johnstone was born in Viewpark, in North Lanarkshire on 30 September1944. He was spotted by the Celtic and Manchester United scouts at age of thirteen. He chose to sign with Celtic and played his first game for the senior team on 21 March 1963 at the age of nineteen . Although just 5ft 4in and weighing 9½ stone, Johnstone soon established himself as a favourite with Celtic fans with his pace on the wing, and his willingness to take on defenders. His dazzling dribbles earned him the nickname 'Jinky' and made him an essential part of the great team that won nine consecutive Scottish League titles between 1965 and 1974. Celtic manager Jock Stein considered him "better than Stanley Matthews".
He won just 23 caps for Scotland because of his fear of flying. Jock Stein used this to the advantage of the team in a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade, when he promised the winger that if he helped Celtic secure a large enough lead in the home leg, he would be excused from flying to Yugoslavia for the second leg. On this promise, Johnstone was brilliant, scoring twice and making three more goals.
Johnstone was one of the 'Lisbon Lions', the team that won the European Cup for Celtic in 1967. In Nantes, in the first leg of the second round, Johnstone so impressed the French press that they nicknamed him the 'Flying Flea'. In the Lisbon final against Inter Milan, Johnstone and the other Celtic winger, Bobby Lennox, had orders to move into the middle, leaving the flanks to the attacking full-backs. Celtic deservedly won 2-1. They then contested the ill-starred intercontinental championship a few months later. The notorious play-off against Racing Club of Buenos Aires in Montevideo saw Johnstone forced to wash the spittle out of his hair at half-time, and sent off in the second half.
During his time with Celtic Johnstone scored 129 goals in 515 appearances. After leaving Parkhead at the end of the 1974/75 season, he played for San Jose Earthquakes, Sheffield United, Dundee, Shelbourne and Elgin City before retiring from football.
Johnstone was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in November 2001 and finally succumbed to the disease in March 2006. At his funeral, Celtic chairman Brian Quinn said Johnstone was "extraordinary", adding: "I would put him alongside Pele, Eusebio and George Best.
In 2002 Celtic fans voted him the greatest player ever to have played for the club. Former teammate Billy McNeill had no doubt about his greatness: 'He was brilliant, he wasn't just skilful, he was a powerful little man, brave as a lion, and his fitness was remarkable,' he added. "He was a very good goalscorer, he loved the adulation of the crowd and he was a real Celtic man.'
See a tribute to Jimmy Johnstone: http://br.youtube.com/watch?v=m-lguKIzAaA