It’s not many players in world football who can say that they’ve played in teams alongside legends such George Best, Ferenc Puskás, Alfredo Di Stéfano and his club team mates Jim Baxter, Davie Wilson, Ralph Brand and Jimmy Millar, but Willie Henderson did that and more.
Growing up and basing his game on other greats Garrincha and Stanley Matthews, Willie signed for Rangers in 1959 at just 15 years of age. At that time, Rangers manager Scot Symon fought off competition for Willie’s signature from a quite remarkable 45 clubs including the likes of Aston Villa, Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United.
Willie made his Rangers debut two years later in a 2-1 win over Clyde in front of 45,000 fans. He went on to make 426 appearances for Rangers, scoring an impressive 62 goals in an era when a winger’s main job was to provide chances for the strikers. His honours at Rangers were two League Championships, four Scottish Cups and two League Cups, including the Treble in 1963-64. Willie was also part of the Rangers team who reached the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in both 1960-61 and 1966-67, as well as playing in the same competition in 1971-72, however he was not involved in the final on that famous night in Barcelona when Rangers brought the cup home.
Capped for Scotland at just 18, Willie played a total of 29 times for the national team, scoring five goals. His club career after leaving Rangers saw spells at Durban United, Sheffield Wednesday, Miami Toros, Hong Kong Rangers, Brisbane Lions and Airdrieonians.