Neil Lennon

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Neil Lennon
Neil lennon and excalibur.jpg
Personal information
Full name Neil Francis Lennon[1]
Date of birth (1971-06-25) 25 June 1971 (age 42)
Place of birth Lurgan, Northern Ireland
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current club Celtic (manager)
Youth career
1987–1989 Manchester City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1986–1987 Glenavon 2 (1)
1987–1990 Manchester City 1 (0)
1990–1996 Crewe Alexandra 147 (15)
1996–2000 Leicester City 170 (6)
2000–2007 Celtic 214 (3)
2007–2008 Nottingham Forest 18 (0)
2008 Wycombe Wanderers 9 (0)
Total 561 (25)
National team
Northern Ireland U21 2 (0)
Northern Ireland U23 2 (0)
Northern Ireland B 1 (0)
1994–2002 Northern Ireland 40 (2)
Teams managed
2010– Celtic
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Neil Francis Lennon (born 25 June 1971)[2] is a former footballer from Northern Ireland. He is the manager[3][4] and former captain of Celtic,[5] and is at present the longest continuous serving manager in the top division of Scottish football.

During his playing career he represented English clubs Manchester City, Crewe Alexandra and Leicester City before moving to Scottish club Celtic where he made over 200 appearances as a midfielder. Before retiring as a player, he returned to England to represent Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers.

Lennon made 40 appearances for Northern Ireland in nine years, scoring two goals.

Early life

Lennon was born in Lurgan, County Armagh[6] and attended St Michael's Grammar School in the town.[7] As a youngster he played gaelic football for the school and was also selected for the Armagh minor team.[8] He grew up supporting Celtic[9] and played football for the local Lurgan Celtic youth team.[10]

Club career

Lennon joined Glenavon, after reaching the final of the Milk Cup[10] and scored on his Irish League debut.[10] He then joined Manchester City as a trainee in 1987. He made one first team appearance during his time in Manchester, a league match on 30 April 1988 away against Birmingham City,[11] before signing for Crewe Alexandra on a free transfer in August 1990.[12] Lennon made his debut for Crewe on 18 September 1990 against Reading.[13] Despite missing the whole of season 1991-92 due to a back injury,[10] he became an established member of the side and impressed with his intelligent play and consistent performances.[13][14] Lennon's form saw win make his debut for Northern Ireland in 1994, and thus became the first Crewe Alexandra player in 60 years to win a full international cap.[15][16] In 5½ years at Crewe, Lennon made 187 appearances for the club and scored 18 goals.[13]

In February 1996, Lennon signed for Leicester City for a fee of £750,000.[17] In May 1996, Lennon played in the Leicester City side that defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 at Wembley in the Play-off Final to win promotion to the English Premiership.[18] On 16 April 1997, Lennnon picked up his first major winner's medal when Leicester won 1-0 against Middlesbrough in a replayed League Cup Final.[19] He played in a further two League Cup Finals during his time at Filbert Street, losing 0-1 to Tottenham Hotspur in March 1999[20] but winning 2-1 against Tranmere Rovers in February 2000.[21]

An on-field incident during a league match in 1998 against Newcastle United between Lennon and Alan Shearer resuted in the England international being charged with misconduct by the FA,[22] Television footage showed Shearer appearing to intentionally kick Lennon in the head following a challenge.[23] The referee of the game took no action against Shearer. Shearer apologised afterwards, but denied that the contact with Lennon was deliberate, and Lennon later gave evidence in Shearer's defence at the FA hearing which subsequently cleared the Newcastle and England striker of all charges.[24]

After Martin O'Neill became the new manager of Celtic in June 2000, he made several attempts to sign Lennon. Finally after months of protracted negotiations with Leicester City, on 6 December 2000 Lennon joined the club he supported as boy for a fee of £5.75 million.[25][26] That season saw Lennon pick-up three winner's medals as Celtic swept to a domestic treble, winning the Scottish Premier League, Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup. The next four seasons at Celtic saw Lennon win a further two league championships and two Scottish Cups. He was also an integral part of the Celtic side that reached the UEFA Cup Final in 2003, losing 2-3 to Porto after extra time.[27]

When Gordon Strachan took over from Martin O'Neill as Celtic manager in the summer of 2005, he made Lennon Celtic captain. In January 2006 when his former club Leicester City sacked Craig Levein, Lennon was linked with a return to the Midlands side in a player-manager role. He went on record saying he was flattered but wanted to captain Celtic to the Scottish Premier League title.[28] Lennon picked up his fourth League Championship medal that season on 5 April 2006 when Celtic defeated Hearts 1-0 at Parkhead.[29]

Although he was also linked with a move to Crystal Palace in a player-manager role in the summer of 2006,[30] on 23 June 2006, Celtic announced he had signed a new one-year contract. Sunderland manager Roy Keane made an attempt to sign Lennon prior to the closure of the August 2006 transfer window, but his approach for the player was rejected by Celtic. On 25 April 2007, Lennon announced he would be leaving Celtic, and in his last game for the club on 26 May 2007, he captained the team to victory in the Scottish Cup Final against Dunfermline Athletic. Celtic's 1–0 win clinched the League and Cup Double.[31]

Lennon joined Nottingham Forest on a one-year contract with an option for a second year on 12 June 2007.[32] He made his debut captaining the side in a 0–0 draw at home to Bournemouth.[33] He missed a week's training with Forest in November 2007, because of family reasons in Scotland,[34] and lost his place in the team as a consequence.[35]

Lennon joined Wycombe Wanderers on 31 January 2008,[35] leaving on 3 April to take up a coaching role with Celtic.[36]

International career

Lennon was capped 40 times by Northern Ireland,[6] scoring two goals. He also captained the team.

Lennon decided to retire from international football in August 2002 upon receiving a death threat before a Northern Ireland match against Cyprus. The threats came after his alleged claim that he wanted to play for a team representing a United Ireland.[37] The threat was allegedly made by the Loyalist Volunteer Force, although the organisation later denied this.[38][39]

International goals

Scores and results list Northern Ireland's goal tally first

Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 5 October 1996 Belfast, Northern Ireland  Armenia 1–0 1–1 1998 World Cup qualification[40][41]
2 18 October 1998 Belfast, Northern Ireland  Moldova 2–2 2–2 Euro 2000 qualification[42][43]

Management and coaching

Lennon was linked with the vacant manager's job at Hibernian after the resignation of John Collins,[44] but the job was given to Mixu Paatelainen. Lennon's first coaching appointment was as first team coach with Celtic in 2008.[45] After the appointment of Tony Mowbray as Celtic manager, Lennon took charge of the Celtic reserve team.[46]

Following Mowbray's departure from Celtic on 25 March 2010, Lennon was appointed caretaker manager for the remainder of the 2009–10 season.[47] He appointed former team-mate Johan Mjällby as his assistant. Celtic won all of their remaining league games under Lennon, including wins over Kilmarnock,[48] Hibernian,[49] and Rangers,[50] but lost 2–0 to First Division side Ross County in the Scottish Cup.[51]

Neil Lennon returned to play for Celtic in the John Kennedy testimonial match, 9 August 2011

Lennon was appointed manager of Celtic on a full-time basis on 9 June 2010.[3][52] On 28 July, in his first competitive game as full-time manager, Celtic lost 3–0 away to Braga in the UEFA Champions League.[53] In the 2010–11 season, Lennon was given a six match touchline ban for excessive misconduct, which was later reduced to four matches after appeal.[54] He was given another four match touchline ban by the SFA following an altercation with Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist after a Scottish Cup match in March 2011.[55]

Lennon led Celtic to the final of the League Cup in March 2011, but they lost 2–1 to Rangers after extra time.[56] They remained in contention for the SPL title until the final day of the 2010–11 season, when they won 4–0 at home to Motherwell, but finished a point behind Rangers.[57] He won his first silverware as a manager when Celtic beat Motherwell 3–0 in the Scottish Cup Final a week later.[58]

Lennon won the SPL Manager of the Month award for November 2011.[59] The club went on to win the 2011–12 Scottish Premier League and Lennon was made SFWA Manager of the Year.[60] Lennon then guided Celtic through two qualification rounds to reach the group stage of the 2012–13 UEFA Champions League, where Celtic beat Barcelona one day after the club's 125th birthday.[61] On 21 April 2013, Celtic retained the Premier League title.[62] And Lennon endeared himself to the Celtic fans after giving away his championship-winning medal to a young supporter during the club's celebration at Celtic Park.[63]

Personal life

Lennon has spoken about having suffered from depression since 2000.[64]

In September 2008, Lennon was assaulted whilst in the West End of Glasgow.[65] His attackers were subsequently charged, convicted and jailed for two years each on 16 January 2009.[66]

In January 2011, Lennon reached an out of court settlement with the Bank of Ireland after a company of which he was a director defaulted on a 3.7 million Euro loan.[67]

In January 2011, the Royal Mail intercepted packages containing bullets addressed to Lennon and Celtic and Northern Ireland players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt.[68] In March 2011, a suspect package addressed to him was discovered in a mail depot in Saltcoats.[69]

In March 2011, Lennon and two high-profile fans of Celtic were sent parcel bombs. The device sent to Lennon was intercepted by the Royal Mail at a depot in Kirkintilloch, Scotland whilst the two other devices were delivered, but treated as suspicious packages and were not opened.[70] (See HM Advocate v Muirhead and McKenzie.)

In response to the death threats, First Minister Alex Salmond condemned those that "use football as a pretext for their pathetic and dangerous prejudices" and UEFA President Michel Platini said he would fight violence and sectarianism. Former Celtic Director Dr. Michael Kelly described the bombs and bullets as terrorism.[71] After these threats, Lennon was subsequently put under 24-hour protection.[72]

On 31 August 2011, a Hearts supporter was found guilty of a breach of the peace, after running into the technical area of the football pitch, and shouting and swearing at Lennon, during a match against Celtic in Edinburgh on 11 May 2011.[73] A further charge of assault, aggravated by religious and racial prejudice, during the same incident, was found not proven.[73] The media and many observers disapproved of the jury's verdict, mainly because of the admission of assault from the accused, as well as the evidence presented.[74][75][75][76][77][78][79] The supporter was given an eight-month prison sentence.[80]

Honours

Player

Lennon (bottom right) enjoying Leicester's League Cup victory on 27 February 2000
Leicester City
Celtic

Manager

Celtic

Awards and achievements

  • Northern Ireland International Personality of the Year (1): 2001[81]

Managerial statistics

As of 5 April 2014.[84]
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Celtic 25 March 2010 Present 223 156 28 39 69.96

List of seasons

Champions Runners-up Third / SF Unfinished
Season Club Nat Domestic Continental Trophies
League Cup LC UCL UEL
2009–10 Celtic Scotland RU SF 0
2010–11 Celtic Scotland RU W RU QU QU 1
2011–12 Celtic Scotland W SF RU QU GS 1
2012–13 Celtic Scotland W W SF R16 2

References

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External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jackie McNamara
Celtic captain
2005–2007
Succeeded by
Stephen McManus