Celtic legends: Who are the top 10 all-time greats for the Bhoys

Celtic legends: Who are the top 10 all-time greats for the Bhoys

Claudia Kogi
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:10 PM

Famously dubbed the Bhoys, Celtic legends have been considered the best football club in Parkhead, Glasgow and among the most successful globally. Behind the incredible success lies an extraordinary crop of legends who have guided their club to landmark victories. This article digs deep into famous Celtic legends who have remarkable achievements with the club.

best Celtic legends
Who are the top 10 all-time greats for the Bhoys? Photo: Luke Walker, Mark Leech, Gary M Prior (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Since the formation of the Celtic club in 1888, there have been some of the Bhoys legends gracing Celtic Park. From Jimmy McGrory and Willie Maley to the 1967 Lisbon Lions of McNeil, Lennox, Johnstone, Petrov, and Larsson, they have helped fire The Hoops to the UEFA Cup Final Seville.

Why are the Celtics known as the Bhoys?

These legends were often referred to as the Bhoys following the club's foundation in the 19th century. It was founded and formed by Brother Walfrid to improve living conditions for those in Glasgow's East End. The extra h in the name initiates the spelling system in Gaelic, which often sees the letter follow b.

The greatest Celtic legends of all time

The list of legends includes players like James Kelly, Jimmy Quinn, Scott Brown, and John Thomson. Keep in mind that these Celtic football legends are listed according to the date they first signed with the club, their total appearances, and the goals some of them scored throughout their careers.

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10. Shunsuke Nakamura (2005-2009)

famous Celtic legends
Shunsuke Nakamura, former Celtic player reacts during a match at NHK Spring Mitsuzawa football Stadium on 20 November 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. Photo: Etsuo Hara
Source: Getty Images

A native of Japan, Nakamura scored his first goal in 2006, clinching the team's progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time. Throughout his career at the Celtics, the player made 165 appearances and scored 33 goals in the four seasons he was there. He currently plays as an attacking midfielder for Yokohama FC in J2 League.

9. Stiliyan Alyoshev Petrov (1999-2006)

Born in Montana, Bulgaria, Stiliyan Alyoshev Petrov became the first foreigner to get a hold of the SPFA Young Player of the year. At Celtics, the legendary Bulgarian midfielder made 311 appearances and scored 64 goals. His spell at the club was one amazing one such that he won four Scottish Premier League titles.

8. James Connolly Johnstone (1963-1969)

Bhoys legends
Alex MacDonald (left) is kept in check by Jimmy Johnstone. Photo: SNS Group
Source: Getty Images

The late James Connolly Johnstone, famously dubbed Jimmy Johnstone was one most adored players at the club. In fact, in 2002, he was voted by the club's supporters as the greatest player ever. He made his debut for the club in 1963 in a 6-0 defeat away against Kilmarnock in the league.

It was more of making an entrance for him because, after that match, the club was unwilling to let such talent slip from their hands. He would later make 308 League appearances for Celtic and score 82 goals.

7. James Kelly (1888-1897)

Born and raised in Renton, Scotland, James Kelly is a former Scottish footballer who played for Renton, Celtic and Scotland. During his playing days at Celtics, he became the first captain, playing in their first-ever match and winning against Rangers in May 1888.

Before retiring, he made 103 appearances and scored 3 goals throughout his career. To date, he is still regarded among Celtic legends of all time.

6. Henrik Larsson (1997-2004)

Celtic football legends
Former Swedish football player, Henrik plays in the pro-am ahead of the Scandinavian Mixed hosted at Vallda Golf & Country Club on 9 June 2021 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Photo: Luke Walker
Source: Getty Images

The Swedish sensation is said to have made more appearances for Celtic than any other overseas player. Additionally, he is recognised for being the club's third-highest goal scorer of all time. The player made his debut in 1997 in a match against Hibernian at Easter Road. While in the club, he made 313 appearances and scored 242 goals.

5. Scott Brown (2007-2021)

Brown is a famed former midfielder widely known for his 14-year tenure with Celtic, where he was club captain for 11 years and won ten Scottish league championships. He made his debut in a goalless draw against Kilmarnock in 2007 and ended his spell at the club in 2021. Throughout his career, he made 619 appearances and scored 46 goals.

4. Robert Sime Roy Aitken (1975–1999)

List of Celtic legends
Roy Aitken in action during a match between England and Scotland. Photo: Mark Leech
Source: Getty Images

Hailing from Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland, Robert made his Celtic debut in 1975 and made 672 appearances in major competitions, scoring 40 goals. Additionally, he captained the club to a league and cup double in their centenary year of 1988. He is among those players who debuted on the soccer scene at the tender age of twelve.

3. John Thomson (1927-1931)

Still recognised for being one of the world's best goalkeepers, especially during the 19th century. Prior to his death, he made over 164 appearances for Celtic. Then, unfortunately, he passed away from an accidental collision with a Rangers player, Sam English, during an Old Firm match at Ibrox. But even though he is late, his glory at Celtics has not yet been long gone as he is still cherished to date.

2. James Quinn (1900-1915)

Another goal scorer that could not miss on the list is the Scottish James Quinn. He played for Celtic for 15 years and became one of the club's all-time leading goal-scorers.

Who is greatest Celtic legend of all time?
James Quinn of Northern Ireland prior to the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Group six match against Poland at Windsor Park on 4 September 2004 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Photo: Gary M Prior
Source: Getty Images

The foundations of James' enduring fame were laid with a hat-trick in the 1902 British League Cup final against Old Firm rivals Rangers and cemented in the 1904 Scottish Cup Final against the same opposition. In total, he made 272 appearances and scored 188 goals.

Who is the greatest Celtic legend of all time?

No Celtics player has ever matched Jimmy McGrory's achievements at the club. The legendary striker scored 408 goals in 408 games to become the club's greatest-ever goal-scorer to date. He is also among the players with the most appearances for the team.

1. Jimmy McGrory (1923-1936)

Jimmy McGrory, whose full name is James Edward McGrory, made his debut in 1923 in a 1-0 away defeat at Cathkin Park. He scored his first goal two weeks later in a 4-3 League defeat against Kilmarnock.

But even though he had proved to be such an incredible player, he became prone to injuries succumbing to various serious injuries and missing large chunks of seasons. However, at the end of his spell at the club, Jimmy had made 408 league appearances and scored 408 goals.

Celtic legends in FIFA 22

Below is a list of the club's FIFA 22 rating of past and present players coached by Ange Postecoglou:

biggest Celtic legends
Christopher Jullien in action during a pre-season friendly match against Blackburn Rovers on 16 July 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo: Rob Casey
Source: Getty Images

Legendary Celtic defenders

  • Jullien Christopher - 75
  • Boli Bolingoli - 70
  • Carl Starfelt - 69
  • Reo Hatate - 69
  • Carter Vickers - 69
  • Nir Bitton - 69
  • Stephen Welsh - 66
  • Anthony Ralston - 64

Legendary Celtic goalkeepers

  • Joe Hart - 74
  • Vasilios Barkas - 72
  • Scott Bain - 69
  • Hazard - 65

Legendary Celtic midfielders

  • James Forest - 75
  • Callum Mcgregor - 75
  • James Mccarthy - 74
  • David Turnbull - 74
  • Jota - 74
  • Tom Rogic - 72
  • Ismaila Soro - 71
  • Josip Juranovic - 71
  • Michael Johnston - 69
  • Karamoko Dembele - 63
  • Shaw - 61

Legendary Celtic attackers

  • Georgios Giakoumakis - 85
  • Furuhashi - 72
  • Albian Ajeti

Although the Bhoys have produced brilliant talents over the years, some of the Celtic legends are late as of 2022. However, that does not stop them from enriching the club's history. Their names still resound in the halls of football.

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Claudia Kogi
Claudia Kogi is a Kenyan content creator with over 3 years of experience. Claudia joined Sportsbrief.com as a writer in January 2022, covering sports and relatable content.