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CELTIC'S players all wore the mark of their club's magnificent No 7 at the CIS Insurance Cup final in a poignant tribute to Jimmy Johnstone.

The former Scotland winger, who died at the age of 61 after a long battle against motor neurone disease, will be remembered in unique fashion when every member of the Celtic team facing Dunfermline at Hampden will wear his famous No 7 on their shorts.

It had initially been suggested that the Celtic players should all wear a No 7 jersey, but this was understandably dismissed because of the confusion it could cause for the match officials in identifying individuals.

 

However, both match referee Stuart Dougal and the Scottish Football League were happy to reach a compromise which has delighted Celtic as they look to pay homage to the man who was voted by supporters as the club's greatest player of all time.

"In Jimmy's playing days, [Celtic] players wore numbers only on their shorts, so this is a fitting tribute," said Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell.

Celtic will also take to the field before the match wearing white tracksuit tops bearing the legend 'Johnstone 7' on the back.

Both teams will wear black armbands and there will be a minute's applause held before kick-off to allow the sell-out Hampden crowd to show their appreciation of a man whose passing has touched everyone in Scottish football.

"A minute of applause will sum up Jimmy's vibrancy more than a minute's silence," added Lawwell. "We would like to thank Peter Donald at the Scottish Football League and the match officials who have been first class. We appreciate their understanding and they have been extremely helpful."

It was confirmed yesterday that Johnstone's funeral service will be held at 10am on Friday morning at St John the Baptist Church in Uddingston. The funeral cortege will then follow a designated route from the church to Celtic Park to allow as many people as possible to pay their respects.

The Bank of Scotland Premierleague has also asked all clubs to mark the loss of Johnstone with either a minute's silence or minute's applause at the four matches taking place this weekend at Pittodrie, Rugby Park, Fir Park and Tynecastle.

Sunday's showpiece occasion at Hampden will be dominated by Johnstone's memory, just as his presence on the pitch so often lit up a tournament in which he enjoyed considerable success as a player.

Johnstone appeared in no fewer than ten League Cup finals for Celtic, collecting five winners' medals. He scored in his first final in 1964-65, but was on the losing side as Rangers defeated Celtic 2-1. Johnstone returned the following season, however, to help Celtic overcome their Old Firm rivals 1-0 and pick up his first winners' medal.

His last one came in 1974-75 when he scored Celtic's first goal in their stunning 6-3 final victory over Hibs, the match which saw Joe Harper net a hat-trick for the Easter Road men but still end up on the losing side against Johnstone and his team-mates, for whom Dixie Deans also scored a treble.

Celtic are also planning their own tribute to Johnstone for their next home match when Inverness Caledonian Thistle visit Parkhead on SPL business next Wednesday night.

 

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