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LENNON: BIGOTS DROVE ME AWAY

Neil Lennon has spoken out on the sectarian flashpoints that contributed to his departure from Celtic.

In May, after securing a third consecutive title and with a Champions League qualifying campaign approaching, Lennon stood down as Celtic boss with no job lined up.

At the time there was talk of staleness and needing a fresh challenge as well as budget concerns with Celtic preparing to sell Fraser Forster in the wake of Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper departing the previous summer.

Running parallel to those issues was the procession of court cases that accompanied bullets and bombs sent through the post to Lennon while online there was regular death threats as pictures appeared of the Irishman covered in blood with one fan charged after posing with a large knife at Lennon's throat during a televised match.

"At times I didn't do myself any favours," the new Bolton boss said looking back at his time in Glasgow. "I am not saying I was an angel in all of this as I wasn't but did I get a fair crack of the whip at times? No. Some of what was said about the difficulties I had was irresponsible. I found it personal.

"They (the media) wouldn't come out and say my treatment was sectarian. They said I brought it on myself. They hid behind that because they didn't want to admit it but it was sectarian in the stadiums. That's what it was.

"People say: "He brings it on himself…he is an aggressive manager". But so are a number of other managers. So are some players. I was high-profile, I came for a lot of money as a player. For me, my job was being part of Martin O'Neill's team and to break the Rangers monopoly. We did that.

"When I came in again as manager, Walter Smith had won three in a row and I had to do it again. Eventually we did that. Some people like it and some people didn't. I think it was unique. Nobody else had to go through situations and circumstances like I have been through. I wouldn't want anyone else to go through it. You would hope that all the nonsense that happened to me would serve as a watershed.

"The anticipation and the rivalry in Glasgow will probably never tire and I enjoyed being part of it for a long time. There is part of me that misses it but a bigger part of me that doesn't either. This is a whole new refreshing part of life for me and I am looking forward to it."

Putting things in context Lennon added: "It's important to make the point it wasn't always crazy and stressful in Scotland. There were times when I could just get on with my job and it was very enjoyable. I loved it, a privilege.

"There were just sporadic incidents that caused a bit of stress. In the main it was brilliant and I wouldn't swap it for anything. You will have stress and pressure at any level. It's just different types. The pressure on me now is to get away from the bottom three, get this club (Bolton) rolling again."


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