August 10th, 1977.

It is not a date that is etched on every Celtic supporter's mind. Why should it be? To borrow a hyperbolic line from Don McLean's famous 'American Pie' song. For fans - it was the day that football died. Cards on the table here; my own brittle heart was broken when Kenny Dalglish quit for Liverpool for a bargain basement fee of £440,000. King Kenny was my first-ever football hero. Only Diego Armando Maradona surpassed him in the hero worship stakes... ever.

Celtic didn't know it then, but it signalled the end of a glorious and beautiful era at the club, certainly on the European scene. Can one man's departure from a football club be such a monumental event? It was for Celtic. It took them a whole season (1977/78) to recover from Dalglish's defection to Anfield. 

Things were to get even worse for Celtic before they got better because by May 1978 the unthinkable happened when Jock Stein announced that he was stepping down after a glorious 13-year reign. It didn't help when in the same month Dalglish was also deftly clipping the ball over Club Brugge goalkeeper Birger Jensen for the winner at Wembley Stadium to hand new club Liverpool a second European Cup crown and back-to-back triumphs. Every Celtic fan could be forgiven for thinking in that instant about what might have been.

It was the end of an era all right, and in more ways than one. The loss of Dalglish at the start of 1977/78 was cataclysmic as much as it was to be catastrophic for Celtic as Rangers swept to the domestic treble under Jock Wallace. The Hoops limped to a fifth-placed finish in the league, lost the League Cup final and bowed out of the Scottish Cup to Kilmarnock after a 1-0 defeat in a fourth-round replay at Rugby Park. The adage that one man does not make a team never applies to Celtic as a general rule of thumb.

When it comes to King Kenny Dalglish all bets are off. Dalglish is quite rightly in the club's all-time XI as voted for by the supporters. He is in the truest definition of the often bandied-about term world-class. It could be contended that Dalglish is the last world-class player that Scotland has produced.

There has not been a footballer to match Dalglish's talent since. King Kenny could have graced any team in Europe in his pomp and ceremony and been a success. Former Celtic team-mate Andy Lynch certainly thinks so. Ironically it was Lynch who scored the decisive penalty in the 1977 Scottish Cup final 1-0 victory over Rangers after Dalglish declined the chance to become the match-winning hero in what turned out to be his last game for Celtic.

READ MORE: Inside the night 10 men won the league for Celtic

The ex-Celtic skipper recalls the club were in a state of flux and transition when Dalglish called it quits in August 1977.

He said: "It was the end of an era for Celtic when Kenny left the club in 1977. Nobody could have quite foreseen how Celtic would be affected by it all. Ever since we won the trophy under Jock Stein in 1967, right up until 1974, the club had competed in the European Cup and reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals as well as the final again in 1970.

"There was a genuine feeling that when Kenny left in 1977 that we were witnessing the end of a historical and highly successful era at the highest level of European football for Celtic. There was a bit of turbulence in the summer of 1977 when Kenny departed. You could feel it as the manager also fell out with the board and players sense those vibes right away - and we did back then.

"You can't always have a great time at Celtic. Jock then stepped down as manager at the end of what was a poor season by any stretch of the imagination. There was a vacuum there when both of these men left that was never filled."

Celtic Way:

Lynch who shared a dressing room with Dalglish for four seasons from 1973 to 1977 is in no doubt that Dalglish and Stein were both world-class. "How do you replace a world-class player like Kenny? he continued. "You simply cannot do that. There will never be a manager like Jock at Celtic ever again. End of argument.

"You will never replace two men of the calibre of Dalglish and Stein. I remember thinking, as I was Celtic captain at that time, how do you talk to the players when two such momentous occasions like that come about within the space of one complete football season?

"It wasn't a great atmosphere. Jock had tried everything to get Kenny to change his mind and stay on in Glasgow. I think Kenny just wanted a fresh challenge. Big Jock was instrumental in facilitating Kenny's move to Anfield as he was really friendly and quite tight with the likes of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

"Jock knew he was fighting a losing battle trying to keep him in the end. Kenny was a great player in his own right and he got his rewards by going to Liverpool as they were the dominant force in English as well as European football.

"Football evolves and players move on and Kenny became the fulcrum of that Liverpool team just as much as he was for Celtic. Imagine having Dalglish as a player as well as Stein as the manager. Both of them were incredible. Jock Stein was way ahead of his time as a manager. How can you compare these two great Celtic men to anybody in the modern-day era? It is impossible."

READ MORE: Why learning from Celtic legend Jock Stein was bigger than football

For all his world-class talent that Dalglish displayed in abundance, Lynch admits that he was the consummate team player for Celtic.

He said: "Kenny was the ultimate team player. He never got ahead of himself or ideas above his station. That group of players would never have allowed it anyway. If you analyse Kenny's game he could conjure up a goal whenever we badly needed it - even if there was no sign of it coming.

"He was the type of player who could create a one-two or produce a moment of magic from nothing. He had that special talent. World-class certainly applies here when you talk about Dalglish. I would not argue with that definition of Kenny. It is hard to find someone to compare, there is no doubt about it. There is nobody in the modern era who is his equivalent. What marks Kenny out as world-class is that Dalglish did it in Scotland and England. It was rare to see a player achieve so much success both north and south of the border.

"Jock's last season at Celtic was made nigh impossible for him as the board decided they were not going to spend any money on players and he kind of had to do with what he had at his disposal. You have to pass the managerial baton at some stage and it was hard for Jock to do that because, in his heart of hearts, he maybe didn't want to do that. I'm sure looking back he didn't want his tenure at Celtic to end on such a sour note.

"It wasn't a great time to be at the club but Celtic came through it. Thankfully, the malaise did not last into the 1978/79 season when Billy McNeill took over as manager."

Celtic bounced back immediately as he and John Clark guided the club to the title in 1979 in dramatic fashion against Rangers which gave rise to the infamous '10-men won the league' game at Parkhead.

"Celtic were back to winning ways again and there was such an outpouring of joy and euphoria that night," Lynch commented.

"I think that largely explains why everybody got such a boost and an incredible lift from winning that league title because it came so soon after the lows of seeing Kenny Dalglish quitting for Liverpool and Jock Stein calling it a day with Celtic as the manager. It showed that Celtic were finally moving on as a club."

Celtic Way:

Barely six days after Kenny Dalglish left Celtic it was the King of an altogether different kind who would make the headlines worldwide. Elvis Aaron Pressley was found dead at his Graceland home in Memphis, aged just 42. The argument still rages as to whether the death of the King of Rock 'n' Roll was the real day that music died.

What Celtic fans know is that football didn't die either on that wretched date of August 10, 1977, when King Kenny left Celtic to join Liverpool. It just felt like it for yours truly. They say time is a great healer yet 46 years on it still hurts whenever I care to think about it.

The King is dead... long live the King... Kenny.