"THIS IS my love letter to football... especially Scottish football and my dad."

Filmmaker Jonny Owen's documentary 'The Three Kings' charts how Scottish managers Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Matt Busby built Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester United into three of the biggest and most successful football clubs in the world.

Owen insists his aim was to show football fans across the world how the modern-day game was shaped by these three Scottish managers.

TalkSport host and actor Owen revealed that he has been fascinated with this story ever since he was a kid after he watched sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney's series 'The Football Men' which was shown on the BBC in 1997.

The legendary managerial trio all grew up in mining communities within a 30-mile radius from each other and took their respective clubs to phenomenal success.

The film also comes from deep within Owen's heart and soul as his father Brian was a miner and he inspired the documentary film.

Owen, who also produced the football film 'I Believe In Miracles' which focused on Brian Clough's European Cup-winning Nottingham Forest side, jokingly revealed that he once got told off by his father for wearing a Rangers top while growing up as a kid in Wales.

“The Three Kings is my love story to football...especially Scottish football and my father," Owen said. "It is a tribute to the three men who created modern football and started off down a pit just like my dad Brian. I was the first male in my family in a century-and-a-half who didn't work underground.

"My father, grandfather and great grandfather all worked in the pit. It was a way of life, especially where I grew up in South Wales.

"My dad was an incredible man and forged from the same steel as the big three. He was a massive football fan and I grew up loving the game and he mentioned Celtic to me.

"In the mid-1970s there was an array of football jerseys in our house with brothers and cousins and whatnot. I was walling through the house in a Rangers top and my dad said to me 'What's that?' I told him it was a Rangers shirt and he said 'you're not supposed to wear that'.

"When I asked why he told me it was because we were Welsh and a Celt and my family was from a Catholic background and I should support Celtic. When your dad says that to you it sticks.

"I always remembered that and whenever people like Stein, Shankly and Busby came on the TV which was very often in those days as they were household names my dad would always point to them and say they had been miners like him. He was immensely proud of that and it resonated with me.

"My dad passed away in 2017 due to cancer, God bless him, and I spoke to him about this lying on the bed. I told him I remembered the Rangers strip story and we both laughed.

"Like him passing into history and those men that worked in those great industries, I felt that there was maybe a story to be told to a new generation. I was aware of Hugh McIlvanney's documentary 'The Football Men' and I felt that I could use that as a template to do this film for a modern-day audience.

“The three men (Stein, Shankly and Busby) may not be here anymore but they live on through these great football teams. The heartbeats of Stein, Shankly and Busby are still felt in all of those clubs.

“I wanted to talk about the great Scottish managers and how important Scotland has been to the history of world football. It’s no coincidence that all the great managers were from Scotland at that time – scratch beneath the surface, you discover they are all from very similar backgrounds and similar upbringings.

"They were all miners in Lanarkshire and Ayrshire and they had great community spirit. I wanted to understand why this specific area produced these three men. These guys just get bigger and bigger every year.

"Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Matt Busby are giants at Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester United and they built those clubs into what they are. They are always the reference points for how those respective clubs play, the success and how they do in Europe.

"Manchester United still talk about playing football 'The Busby Way' and this ​is a man that finished managing the club in the mid-1970s. I think it is an incredible thing that these three football clubs are built on three specific men.

"I was speaking to a friend of mine who supports Chelsea and he told me that the most important person in Chelsea is Roman Abramovich because stumped up the money and they have gone on to win the European Cup. That's a fact.

"The most important people at Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester United are Stein, Shankly and Busby. They are not oligarchs from Russia but they are all miners from Lanarkshire and Ayrshire.

“Their DNA runs through the clubs they turned Celtic, Liverpool, Manchester United into global sensations. They came from an era and a time when there was nowhere on the planet as obsessed with football as Scotland, they still love it. Record crowds were always broken in Glasgow. 

"There was a reason why these men came from the furnace of Scotland and why they were as good as they were because they were immersed in football culture. They were fantastic at arguing a point as they were great union men and they could also inspire teams to stick together."

Celtic Way:

Owen revealed how he collaborated with Oscar and Bafta-winning producers of Senna and Diego Maradona and the film is based on a book by himself and his pal Leo Moynihan.

The feature-length film uses archive footage and behind-the-scenes recollections which brings the legendary trio to life.

With contributions from the likes of Archie MacPherson and many others, it tells the story of the managers through their own words and how the fans were at the epicentre of the wonderful teams they built.

Due to lockdown the film only enjoyed one day at the box office last year but Owen is now heading to Glasgow on October 13 for a special screening of 'The Three Kings' at St Lukes as well as a Q&A.

Owen said: "The people that made Senna, Maradona and Amy all loved 'The Three Kings' story and they funded it. Unfortunately, it only had one day at the cinema but it did really well.

"It was number one at the box office and it has since gone on Amazon and got five stars. I felt that this was something that we could show to a public audience in Scotland."

Owen insists that Stein's Celtic sides legendary achievements of 1967 when they won every competition that they entered will never ever be beaten.

He said: "All three managers were masters of the game. Stein was light years ahead of his time as a manager. Celtic played football at a time that was revolutionary.

"They were amazing in that European Cup final against Inter Milan as they battered them. There is a wonderful line by Archie MacPherson at half-time where he says 'can Celtic stop this ice-age of European football?' It is an evocative image.

"Celtic winning everything in football in 1967 is the most remarkable domestic and European achievement of any team in any sport that ever existed. It is incredible.

"Celtic just did not win the European Cup beating one of the best European teams of the era in Inter Milan but they also defeated a really good Rangers team who got to the final of the European Cup-Winners' Cup the same year.

READ MORE: Former Celtic and Scotland boss Jock Stein's death remembered on the 36th anniversary of his passing

"Hearts and Aberdeen were also strong back then but Celtic won everything they entered - even the fucking Glasgow Cup! It is a remarkable achievement.

"I have always said if I could invent the time machine I would go back to 1967. Sir Alex Ferguson famously said that Jock Stein won the European Cup with a Glasgow district XI. It will never happen again in football and that is sad.

"People have huge respect for Celtic for what they achieved at that time and what they stood for. That's why in my opinion, Jock Stein is the greatest football manager that ever lived."

Celtic Way:

In his time at Celtic, Stein won 10 league titles, eight Scottish Cups and six League Cups and was immortalised by the Lisbon Lions side who won the European Cup in 1967 - the first British club to reach that pinnacle.

Stein also went on to manage the Scottish national team for seven years before his death in 1985.

Busby managed Manchester United for nearly 24 years between October 1945 and June 1969, winning five First Division titles, two FA Cups and the 1968 European Cup at Wembley when the Reds defeated Benfica 4-1 in the final.

Shankly took Liverpool into the top flight by winning the Second Division in 1962 and would go on to win the First Division three times as well as two FA Cups and the 1973 Uefa Cup.

The film also unearths a couple of nuggets of information and explains how Busby got Shankly the managers job at Liverpool while he was in situ at Old Trafford and how Stein turned down the chance to succeed Busby at Manchester United in order to stay at Celtic.

It's small wonder that there are statues of all three erected outside their beloved Celtic Park, Old Trafford and Anfield.

Owen said: "The way the men respected each other was phenomenal. Busby got Shankly the Liverpool job and he knew he was going to be a rival and lesser men would have flinched from that.

"Famously Busby phoned Liverpool and told them that the man they wanted was Shankly, who was at Huddersfield at the time.

“When Liverpool phoned Busby and asked who they should get as a manager, he said Shankly, even though he knew his old pal would be coming for him and Man United. He put the phone down and turned to Jimmy Murphy, his Welsh assistant and said 'I might regret that!' In that instant, the Liverpool-Manchester United rivalry as we know it today was born. 

"I also wanted to point out in the film how subjugated Celtic were by Rangers up until Stein arrived. They had been the dominant force in Scotland. Celtic would win a cup every now and then but the club was nothing to write home about. 

"Manchester was a bomb site when Busby took over the Manchester United and the club didn't have a ground. Liverpool were a mid-table Second Division side when Shankly came on board.

"Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest modern-day manager. He is an amalgamation of all three and he speaks highly of them all but he totally idolised Jock Stein.

"When you look at the clubs that Stein, Shankly and Busby inherited they were all in terminal decline but all three turned their teams into football powerhouses. They all felt a moral obligation to perform for the respective supporters who came to watch them.

"Stein opening the windows so the players could hear the Celtic supporters walking and singing as they made their way to the ground and saying they were doing it for them and Shankly pointing to the Kop and saying the same thing and Busby pointing to the millworkers walking across Trafford Park and telling his players not to forget them.

"Stein famously said he loved working at Celtic because he loved the people that supported the club, Shankly would bang on about the Kop being exclusive and Busby saying that 'Manchester is my heaven' has gone down in folklore after he turned down a job offer from Real Madrid.

"If you say all these things then you are building up a connection and an identity. Suddenly the football team that you supported felt like a family and that is the most important thing.

"Working-class people tapped into that as they belonged to something that was really good. That sense of community and spirit is portrayed throughout the film.

"There is a football family connected to Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester United. Even the most grudging football fan would have to admit that these three clubs are special because of these three men.

"There is a reason why Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester United are three of the best-supported institutions on the planet. I grew up in Merthyr and even I understand that. It's attractive - why wouldn't people want to support those clubs?"

Welshman Owen remembers only too well Stein's death in 1985 at Ninian Park as he was there was his father and grandfather on one of football's darkest ever days.

He said: “I was with my dad and grandfather watching the Wales v Scotland game at St Ninian’s Park in Cardiff the night Jock Stein died. The hush, the silence in the crowd. I will never ever forget it as we were all stunned by the events.

“Everybody felt it because Jock Stein was one of us. He was a socialist. He was a miner. We felt a really close kinship to Jock Stein.

"The last thing Jock Stein did was to put Davie Cooper onto the park and he scored the penalty that secured the play-off spot. Even when the man was facing death he was still able to make a football decision that altered the course and nature of the game.

"He made a positive substitution that got Scotland a result. Jock called it right even at that moment - it's unbelievable really."

Owen laughs as he recalls how he came to know Jock Stein's old house in the late 80s or early 90s and that he always felt destined to make a film about him. It was also a building that paid host to a special guest in 1967.

He said: "I had a mate who stayed in Jock Stein's old house - can you believe that? I would get into taxis and say to the driver I am going to the Big Man's house and they knew exactly where to go. I had this feeling that I was destined to make a film about him.

"There is a great story that Sean Fallon lived opposite Stein and would go into his house whenever he wanted. When Celtic won the European Cup they paraded it to all the neighbours and lots of people turned up and there were babies pictured inside the trophy.

"Jock Stein's wife Jean was outside and she said 'Sean's here' and Jock was puzzled as he just normally walked in and did not need an introduction. It wasn't Sean Fallon...it was Sean Connery.

"That is mad, isn't it? Imagine that, James Bond turning up to get his picture taken with the European Cup!"

'The Three Kings' film definitely has a licence to thrill and is an absolute must-watch for any football fan. Owen has produced a wonderful spectacle and fitting tribute to Stein, Shankly and Busby as well as a fantastic epitaph to his father.

Owen said: "Stein, Shankly and Busby set the benchmark for their respective clubs. What a benchmark that is.

"Celtic, Liverpool and Manchester United were once the kings of football. All three clubs were created in the image of their managers. The title of the film says it all really.

"There was a time in southern Ireland when there were three photos on the wall. One was of the Pope, one was of JFK and the other was of Jock Stein. My father told me there was a spell in the 1960s when Celtic was everybody's second team.

"This film is my love letter to my dad. I loved doing it and it delights me that so many people understand that it comes from a place of love. A love for the game, a love for the history of football, a love for those three men and a love for my father really."

It goes without saying that Stein, Shankly and Busby are all football royalty. Although somewhere in heaven there is a fourth king. 

He goes by the name of Brian Owen. He is a miner. He is also a loving father and he is walking around sporting a beaming smile, immensely proud of his boy.

You can buy tickets for the screening of The Three Kings here.