Murdo MacLeod vows to complete ‘fightback’ after ‘humbling’ hospital visit from Celtic icons following heart scare

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The Hoops legend was left fighting for his life from complications following heart surgery

Celtic hero Murdo MacLeod has opened up on his long road to recovery after complications following heart surgery left him critically ill and fighting for his life in hospital for over three months.

The 64-year-old former Hoops, Borussia Dortmund and Scotland internationalist was admitted to Clydebank’s Golden Jubilee hospital in September for a routine procedure to replace a heart valve that he had fitted in 2010. However, his health took a turn for the worse after contracting endocarditis - a rare and life threatening infection of the heart’s inner lining.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Doctors were forced to put the father of three and grandfather on a ventilator for up to eight weeks as they battled to save his life. Eventually his condition improved and it was an emotional visit from ex-Hoops team-mate Frank McGarvey - diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and currently going through chemotherapy - that left MacLeod lost for words and determined to repay his kindness.

Murdo MacLeod in action for Glasgow Celtic during a match in 1983Murdo MacLeod in action for Glasgow Celtic during a match in 1983
Murdo MacLeod in action for Glasgow Celtic during a match in 1983 | Getty Images

Speaking for the first time since returning home from hospital ten days ago, MacLeod said: “This isn’t a victory for me. This is the start of a fightback. It’s not as if I’ve suffered a broken toe. I spent a total of 106 days in hospital and getting back home is special. I’ll know I’ve won when I can get back on the gold course for the first time in months.

“I couldn’t believe it when Frank came into my room while I was still in hospital. I knew what was going on with his health because I was discussing Frank with another former team-mate, Danny McGrain, when he came in to see me 24 hours earlier. The thought that someone so ill had gone out of his way to see how I was getting on was touching and humbling.

“Frank never tired of talking about our days at Celtic Park and he was kindness personified when he paid me the ultimate compliment. He said that, for all the 100 goals he had scored for the club, one of mine in particular had beaten any of them. That was the goal that beat Rangers in 1979 and won Celtic the league title on our final day of the season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was voted by the Celtic supporters as the greatest goal ever scored in an Old Firm derby. Frank was a terrific player for us in those days, althought I had to tell him he was so successful because no one, including myself, ever had any idea what he was going to do next whenever he got on the ball.

In 1998 the league title changed hands, ending Rangers 10-in-a-row hopesIn 1998 the league title changed hands, ending Rangers 10-in-a-row hopes
In 1998 the league title changed hands, ending Rangers 10-in-a-row hopes

“Once I am strong enough, I am going to visit him and see if I can make him feel as good as he made me feel when he got his son Scott to take him well out of his way to cheer somebody else up.”

While he was instrumental in stopping Walter Smith’s Rangers side from winning ten-in-a-row, MacLeod who assisted the late Wim Jansen in 1998, admits he even received a bedside hospital visit from Smith’s widow Ethel.

He told the Sunday Mail: “Walter and I were at Dumbarton together in the late 1970s. I was the teenager trying to make my way in the game and Walter was in the twilight of his playing career before becoming the outstanding manager he turned out to be at Ibrox.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When Walter gave up coaching at Dundee United to become Greame Souness’ assistant manager at Rangers, he and Ethel became near neighbours of ours in Helensburgh. There’s no such thing as club rivalry when friends are in difficult. Mhairi and I appreicated everything Ethel did for us while I was in hospital. That’s what life is all about.”

MacLeod’s wife Mhairi admitted the whole family are overjoyed he is now back home surrounded by loved ones. She stated: “Murdo is on the mend but we’re taking baby steps back to where he was before the operation. A friend texted me to say baby steps can still climb mountains and we know how true that is when we see how far Murdo has come from the difficult days in September.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.