Homage to ‘The Maestro’ Paul McStay, Many Happy Returns to a Celtic Legend | OneFootball

Homage to ‘The Maestro’ Paul McStay, Many Happy Returns to a Celtic Legend

Logo: The Celtic Star

The Celtic Star

Celtic have today paid tribute to one of their finest sons and equally one of the best to pull on the hooped jersey, Paul McStay, on his birthday. McStay, or ‘The Maestro’ as he was affectionately known, was as gifted a midfield player as they come. Having broken into the team under Billy McNeill in the early 1980’s, Paul would go on to cement a place in Celtic folklore that few else have. As the song goes, “They gave us James McGrory and Paul McStay…”.

McStay’s immense talent and aptitude from a young age for holding onto the ball and finding a teammate with an exquisite array of passes earmarked him as a future Celtic captain. While he enjoyed some success at Celtic, ‘The Maestro’ would suffer from playing with poorer Celtic sides the longer his career went on. Paul was at Celtic Park during the dark days and the barren spell of the early nineties, when the club was almost consigned to history like a certain other Scottish club in 2012.

Paul did, however, stay the course as Celtic captain and managed to win a Scottish Cup under the tutelage of former teammate and friend, Tommy Burns. Admittedly a very paltry return for a man with such a phenomenal talent. This endeared Paul McStay to the Celtic Support even more, as he gave his best years of service when he could have jumped ship the second Celtic appeared to be in chaos.

Is it any wonder he was included in the Greatest Ever Celtic Team when he could do things like this

Paul Gillespie

Here’s Celtic Historian David Potter’s thoughts on Birthday Bhoy Paul McStay...

It remains one of the major tragedies of Celtic’s recent history that one of their greatest ever players, Paul McStay, was compelled to play in the 1980s which were strange, unpredictable and quixotic, and then the early 1990s which were quite simply bad.

Yet it is to the credit of this man that he emerged with his dignity intact and his reputation enhanced. True, he did not win anything like the amount of medals that he should have – a total of 3 League medals, 4 Scottish Cup medals and 1 Scottish League Cup medal to add to his 76 caps for Scotland.

He had emerged in the early 1980s as a classy midfield player with visionary passing ability and an eye for goal. He had had success in those times, but when Roy Aitken left in 1990, he was appointed captain of a team that was visibly failing to cope with a Board of Directors that seemed to be quite content to allow Rangers to win trophies and to hope for some miracle to change things. Manager Billy McNeill left in 1991, Liam Brady was nothing like up to the job, and in spite of McStay’s efforts, things were visibly falling apart for him. Yet somehow or other, he kept the playing side of things respectable at least and the supporters’ slogan of “Back The Team, Sack The Board” was in some ways a tribute to Paul.

Nemesis visited the Board in spring 1994, but total redemption and a return to trophy winning was still a long way off. McStay tragically was the man who missed the penalty in the shoot-out in the League Cup final, but his day eventually came when he captained the side to the winning of the Scottish Cup in May 1995. Those who loved Paul McStay enjoyed that, and next year it was only by the narrowest of margins that Celtic failed to win the Premier League.

In March 1997, McStay now 33, limped off Stark’s Park, Kirkcaldy and never played again for the club nor indeed for any other club. He was always and only Paul McStay of Celtic, literally born into the club for which his great uncles played with such distinction in the 1920s. He played 515 times for the club and scored 57 goals.

He was quite simply an outstanding player, unfortunate enough to be around at the wrong time.

David Potter

More Stories / Latest

Mentioned in this article
View publisher imprint