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William Stewart Hillis OBE (28 September 1943 − 21 July 2014), was a Scottish physician who held a professorship in cardiology and exercise medicine. He was doctor for the Scotland national football team for 228 full international matches, part of his involvement with football that spanned more than 40 year during his medical career. He was vice-chairman of the UEFA medical committee and medical advisor to FIFA.

Stewart Hillis
William Stewart Hillis

28 September 1943
Clydebank, Scotland
Died21 July 2014
Glasgow, Scotland
EducationUniversity of Glasgow
Occupationprofessor of cardiology and exercise medicine
Known fordoctor for Scotland national football team
Medical career
InstitutionsWestern Infirmary
University of Glasgow
Scottish Football Association

Early lifeEdit

William Stewart Hillis was born on 28 September 1943 in Clydebank, but was always known as Stewart. He was the son of a foreman at John Brown's shipyard. He was educated at Linnvale Primary and then Clydebank High School.[1] He studied medicine at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1967.[2] He married Anne and they had three sons and a daughter.[3]

Academic medicineEdit

Hillis spent a year working at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.[2] In 1977, he was appointed as a consultant cardiologist at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow,[2] then working at the Western Infirmary in Glasgow.[4]

Hillis started Bachelor of Science and Masters courses in Sports Medicine at the University of Glasgow in 1995 and was course director until 2012.[2][5] In 1997, the University of Glasgow awarded Hillis a personal chair in cardiology and exercise medicine.[6]

Sports medicineEdit

Club footballEdit

In 1970 Hillis became the team doctor for Clydebank F.C. and remained in this position for 27 years.[7]

He had a brief spell as club doctor at Rangers F.C. but during this period the club signed Daniel Prodan in 1998 without some significant medical problems being discovered before the completion of the deal.[8] When the club's owner David Murray rushed the deal for the player through, Hillis hadn't been allowed the normal amount of time to complete his medical checks.[9]

International footballEdit

In 1976, he began working with the Scottish Football Association to provide medical support for the Scotland national under-21 football team and he covered 54 matches.[3] In 1982, he was promoted to cover the Scotland national team doctor.[10] In 1985, at the Wales vs Scotland football match in Cardiff, the Scotland team manager Jock Stein collapsed and although Hillis and the team attempted resuscitation, Stein died from a heart attack.[11] Hillis helped establish the Sports Medicine Centre inside Hampden Park, the first of its kind in a national stadium.[4] He stepped down as the Scotland team doctor in 2010, but remained involved research and he continued to be involved with the SFA.[12] He became the medical director of the SFA.

In 1986, he became a member of UEFA's Medical Committee[7] and he had several stints as vice-chairman of the committee.[13][14] He was a medical adviser to FIFA.[3]

Commonwealth GamesEdit

Hillis had been working with the medical team to prepare for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.[2] He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May 2014, however he continued to work until the middle of June.

Awards and honoursEdit

In 2008, Hillis was awarded the prestigious Sir Robert Atkin prize by the Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine.[4] He was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year Honours list for services to medicine and sport.[15]

In 2014, the British Association for Sports and Exercise Medicine (BASEM) awarded him the Roger Bannister medal, recognising an outstanding contribution to the field of Sport and Exercise Medicine over his lifetime.[16] In July 2015 a project to look at how best to treat mental health issues encountered by footballers in Scotland was funded by the UEFA Research Grant Programme and was dedicated to Hillis.[17]

In October 2015, he was posthumously admitted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame.[18]


  1. ^ "Professor William Stewart Hillis OBE". The Herald. 24 July 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Murray, Stuart; MacLean, John; Dunn, Frank (26 August 2014). "William Stewart Hillis". The BMJ. 349. pp. g5158. doi:10.1136/bmj.g5158.
  3. ^ a b c Shaw, Phil (16 September 2014). "Stewart Hillis: Expert in sports science who served the Scotland football team 228 times but couldn't save Jock Stein". The Independent. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c "University of Glasgow Story: People: Stewart Hillis". University of Glasgow. 28 August 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ Hannan, Martin (23 July 2014). "Obituary: Professor W Stewart Hillis OBE, professor of sports medicine". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ "News and views" (PDF). British Journal of Sports Medicine. 31: 355–356. 1997.
  7. ^ a b "Former Clydebank FC doctor inducted into hall of fame". Clydebank Post. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. ^ "I made a mistake - Hillis". The Herald. 26 September 1998. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ Grant, Michael (23 July 2014). "'Prof' found humour in all he saw, even Prodan's knee". The Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Scotland team doctor Professor Stewart Hillis dies aged 70". Evening Times. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  11. ^ McCallum, Andrew; Reynolds, Jim (11 September 1985). "Manager Stein dies at match". The Glasgow Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  12. ^ Gordon, Moira (25 March 2012). "Getting to the heart of footballers' health". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Exciting medical projects for the future" (Press release). Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). 15 March 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  14. ^ "Professor Stewart Hillis passes away" (Press release). Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). 22 July 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  15. ^ "Mone and McGeechan head New Year Honours list". BBC News. 31 December 2009.
  16. ^ "Awards: Sir Roger Bannister Medal". British Association for Sports and Exercise Medicine (BASEM). Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Research into mental health of Scottish footballers gets UEFA funds". STV News. 3 July 2015. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  18. ^ Mullen, Scott (18 October 2015). "Ally MacLeod one of five inducted into Scottish Football Hall of Fame". Evening Times. Retrieved 19 October 2015.

External linksEdit