Neil Lennon described the late Dundee United boss Jim McLean as a football “giant” as Celtic prepare to host the Tannadice side on Wednesday.

The Tayside club are in mourning following the death of their title-winning manager on Boxing Day at the age of 83.

McLean, who spent 22 years as United manager from 1971, led the Terrors to their only league championship in 1983, and made them a force in Europe, reaching the European Cup semi-finals in 1984 and the UEFA Cup final in 1987, beating Barcelona at home and away on their way to the latter.

Hoops boss Lennon said: “I grew up in that era at 13/14 and you had the ‘New Firm’ of Aberdeen and Dundee United as well as Celtic and Rangers and he was a giant.

“His Dundee United team was one of the best put together in any generation of Scottish football.

“I remember them beating Barcelona and I remember also being really disappointed that they lost the UEFA Cup final to Gothenburg.

“But an incredible achievement and they won the league. He was a giant, really intelligent, a great football guy.”

The former Hibernian manager added: “I got to speak to him a few years ago, I rang him and I think he thought someone was taking the mickey.

“I was at Hibs at the time and I asked him for a little bit of advice, but he was a little tentative coming forward because he wasn’t sure if it was me or not.

“But a huge loss, particularly to Dundee United because he was the greatest manager they ever had by a country mile and some of the players and teams he produced were out of this world.”