The son of a Scottish international footballer, Ronnie Simpson made his debut as a goalkeeper for Queen’s Park in a wartime league game whilst still a month short of his 15th birthday in September 1945. A series of performances for the Glasgow club brought him to the attention of the British Olympic team management and he played in two of Great Britain’s matches at the 1948 Olympics. After military service, he signed a professional contract with Third Lanark F.C. but spent only a single season there before moving to England to play for Newcastle United. Simpson spent nine years in the English League and was part of both of Newcastle’s F.A. Cup winning teams in 1952 and 1955. He returned to Scotland in 1960 and spent four years with Hibernian of Edinburgh before signing for Glasgow Celtic. Ostensibly signed as back-up goalkeeper, a change of coach and a loss of form from the incumbent meant that Simpson was suddenly first choice for the team. His career had a renaissance and Simpson starred as Celtic won five successive Scottish League championships. Simpson was voted Scottish Footballer of the Year in 1967 and the same year was a member of the Celtic team, known forever as the “Lisbon Lions”, who defeated Internazionale of Milan in Portugal to become European champions. A week later, at the age of 36, he became Scotland’s oldest international debutant as the Scots became the first team to defeat the “Auld Enemy”, England, since England had won the World Cup. Simpson retired from playing after suffering a shoulder injury and had a brief period as coach to Hamilton Academicals.
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