Legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein signed Wilson for the club in 1967. Stein immediately farmed him out to Scottish Junior club, Maryhill, to gain experience before returning to Celtic. Wilson was part of the group of young players named the Quality Street Gang by the Scottish media. Wilson was one of many in that group that replaced Celtic’s Lisbon Lions team that won the 1967 European Cup Final. Wilson’s senior debut was in a European Cup 9–0 win at Parkhead against KPV Kokkola in 1970.
Wilson was a quick footballer able to shoot with either foot. He was largely deployed by Stein on the wing where he felt Wilson’s pace would be useful. Wilson disliked playing wide preferring to play more centrally. Wilson had dark skin tone and received racist abuse during his football career during Old Firm games.
Wilson became a first team regular in August 1973. He ended that 1973–74 season with a league winners’ medal.
Stein moved the fast and elegant Wilson to play up front for the 1974–75 season where he outscored his friend and strike partner, Kenny Dalglish, with 29 goals. This culminated with Wilson scoring two goals in the 3–1 victory over Airdrie in the 1975 Scottish Cup Final. This was also the season he was selected to play for Scotland.
Wilson’s mother died in the week leading up to the final against Airdrie. He later stated his mother’s death was the source of his waning enthusiasm for football. This was not helped by a niggling injury requiring cortisone injections. Wilson did though collect a second championship winning medal in 1976–77 when he had been a regular until Alfie Conn joined in March that season. Wilson remained at Celtic until 1978 when he was out of favour under Billy McNeil’s management. At Celtic wilson made 214 appearances scoring 52 goals.
Next Wilson moved to Motherwell for one season. He then finished his senior career at the end of the 1980 season with Partick Thistle at the age of 29.
After his spell at Thistle he was tempted into junior football by ex-Celtic team-mate Jimmy Johnstone with Blantyre Celtic, winning a junior international cap.