‘ I was deflated by depression when I should have been pumped full of the joys at the peak of my career and my inner turmoil came to a head one morning as I drove through my parents’ hometown of Kincardine and spotted a man outside a pub waiting for the doors to open. In that instant I became jealous and resentful because he had no cares to weigh him down and none of the responsibilities that were troubling my mind. I woke every morning with the thought I wanted to hide from the world rather than drive to Celtic Park for training.

I’d started to give myself away by vanishing in the middle of training sessions and the club had suggested I go for psychiatric help to deal with difficulties that had started a long time before.

Four years earlier, while still in my teens, I’d got a girl called Christine pregnant and entered into a loveless marriage against my parents’ better judgment. The fact that my future mother-in-law said she’d take a knife to my throat if I didn’t do the right thing might have been another consideration at the time.

Jock Stein said nothing but gave me a cheque from the club for £750, repayable at a tenner a week, and I was suddenly a property owner with a wife who was expecting.

Christine suffered a miscarriage and even though that tragedy was followed by the birth of two daughters, the marriage was a sham.

No one in the Celtic dressing room knew what was going on because I didn’t have the skill to communicate with the players. It was then Celtic recommended the psychiatrist who discovered he was trying to get to the bottom of a well that knew no depths.

The only thing he told me was that I’d done well to get as far as I had done in my career while carrying that kind of mental overload around with me.

That’s when the rumour started that I had wanted to get out of the celebrity life and seek the anonymity of being a lorry driver but that was nonsense. I was seeing a psychiatrist but I wasn’t deranged.

The fact there was nothing right with my home life had started to affect my judgment when it came to football. I had been voted Scotland’s Player of the Year in 1973 and that was when I also walked out on Scotland as we were about to fly to Switzerland.

The excuse I used was that my wife was pregnant again and experiencing difficulties. The fact is my head was messed up and I ducked out of the airport into a waiting taxi and asked the driver to take me home via an off licence so that I could buy two bottles of Cinzano.

I took them straight up to bed with me and downed the lot while listening to reporters hammering at my front door.

There would be unexplained absences from the club, including an infamous walk-out before Celtic lost to Rangers in September, 1974. Laziness, lack of motivation and the departure of my closest friend at the club, Davie Hay, for Chelsea left me demotivated and on the way out for good.

Mr Stein had paid me the compliment of saying in public that the 1974 World Cup finals, which I’d missed due to a broken ankle, had produced only one player comparable to me and that was Beckenbauer.

But two years later, after a couple of failed attempts at restarting my career with Celtic, Big Jock had started to give me laldy for my disappearances and my lame marriage had turned me into a difficult customer.

The club finally had enough of me and cancelled my contract.

The clock had been ticking furiously towards the time of reckoning in any case and it finally came as I was getting hammered in training and my head felt as if it was about to explode. Suddenly, I knew I couldn’t be bothered any more.

My marriage was over and I wanted a divorce from Celtic, too. There had been a three-year period of building up irreconcilable differences between us and then I did what was enough to make me certifiable. My life flashed in front of my eyes that morning. What if I’d had a better marriage? What if Davie hadn’t signed for Chelsea? My hair had turned grey and the other players nicknamed me Jeff Chandler after a movie star of the period. And then the titles rolled on my personal drama with Celtic when I blurted out, “Oh f*** it. That’s me. I’m off”. I didn’t bother to look back. I just ran and ran until I was off the park, up the tunnel and into my clothes for a quick getaway.

I made one, secret return visit to say cheerio to the gaffer and pick up my cards and that was it. There was no outpouring of sentiment because I was quite glad to be out of it all.’

Connolly didn’t return to Celtic Park until 2007. He was re-introduced to the fans at half time. He was nervous that the fans due to the fact that he walked away without reason at the time and thought his reception might be something similar to that of Brendan Rodgers, when he suddenly left Celtic. Although to George’s relief, this did not happen. Instead, he got a standing ovation. The lost legend was rediscovered. Since his battles with depression and alcoholism, George has returned to Celtic Park on more than one occasion and has become re-connected with the club and the fans. George is now a happily married man and proud grandfather He finished with 7 Scottish League titles, 5 Scottish Cups, and 3 Scottish League Cups. When your mental health messes with you, it can be a very dangerous thing. We’re thrilled to hear George is doing well and wish him and his family the best of luck going forward. Hail Hail George Connolly.