IT WAS exactly 11 years and two days ago that Celtic celebrated a memorable European triumph over top-class Spanish opposition.
Neil Lennon was the man in charge when the Hoops overcame mighty Barcelona 2-1 at a vibrant Parkhead on the evening of November 7 2012.
As the fans currently recover from the 6-0 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Metropolitano Stadium on Tuesday, they can reflect on an altogether different emotion against La Liga opposition.
PENSIVE…Neil Lennon before the momentous Champions League meeting with Barcelona on November 7 2012.
On an unforgettable night under the lights in the east end of Glasgow, Victor Wanyama rose majestically to head past keeper Victor Valdes from a corner in the 21st minute to give the hosts the advantage.
As Lionel Messi and Co pressed for an equaliser, teenager Tony Watt came off the bench to to race through the Spaniards’ rearguard before slipping in the second goal.
Fraser Forster, who had been a hero throughout the pulsating confrontation, conceded at last when Messi stroked home his side’s consolation effort in injury time, but Celtic held on to inflict mighty Barca’s first defeat of the season.
It was a momentous victory for Lennon, but today the Northern Irishman finds himself out of football without a club after being sacked by Cypriot outfit Omonia Nicosia in October last year.
The 52-year-old club legend, a History Bhoy as the only Celt to play AND manage the team to a domestic clean sweep, is still awaiting a suitable pathway back into football.
THREE CHEERS…Victor Wanyama, Miku and Efie Ambrose celebrate the opening goal against Barca.
HOOP HOOP HOORAY…Tony Watt yells with delight after his sensational winner.
Lennon has been linked with posts at former club Hibs, Aberdeen and, more recently, St Johnstone in the Premiership over the period. There was talk also with the Republic of Ireland international post with Stephen Kenny under pressure, but nothing has materialised.
His last hurrah as Hoops gaffer came on December 20 2020 when he guided the team to their phenomenal quadruple treble achievement in the Covid-delayed Scottish Cup Final penalty-kick decider against Hearts at a deserted Hampden.
Lennon exited the club just over two months later on February 24 2021, just three days after an inexplicable 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall as the bid for a tenth successive title came off the rails.
On that occasion, he remained out of football for over a year before he resurfaced in the unlikely settings of Cyprus when he signed a two-and-a-half year deal with First Division outfit Omonia on March 8 2022.
For the record, as a player, Lennon lifted five leagues, five Scottish Cup and two League Cups.
As a manager, he won five titles, three Scottish Cups and one League Cup.
It’s an exemplary record that deserves the utmost respect. It only adds to the puzzle of why a team boss with such a pedigree is left with just media work to keep in contact with football these days.