NEIL LENNON has been out of work since being sacked by Cypriot outfit Omonia Nicosia EXACTLY a year ago today.
Astonishingly, the Celtic legend has not been offered a suitable pathway back into management, despite an indisputably impressive track record.
The 52-year-old Northern Irishman is the solitary individual in the Hoops’ proud history to play AND manage the team to a domestic clean sweep of silverware.
Lennon kicked off the glory trail after being brought to Parkhead by Martin O’Neill in December 2000 in a £6million switch from Leicester City.
And he guided the team to their phenomenal quadruple treble achievement on the dramatic Sunday afternoon of December 20 2020 against Hearts in the Covid-delayed Scottish Cup Final at a deserted Hampden.
THE QUADRUPLE TREBLE…delighted Celtic manager Neil Lennon celebrates the extraordinary achievement at Hampden on December 20 2020.
The dramatic, edge-of-the-seat showpiece occasion finished 3-3 after extra-time before Kristoffer Ajer lashed the decisive penalty-kick past former team-mate Craig Gordon in the spot-kick shoot-out to claim the team’s twelfth successive domestic honour, a feat that will surely never be equalled never mind surpassed.
The previous year, Lennon had seen a goal from Christopher Jullien, the defender he bought for £7million from Toulouse in June 2019, win the League Cup against Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit at a packed and rocking national stadium.
He added the ninth consecutive championship in a campaign that came to a premature conclusion due to the coronavirus pandemic. Scotland’s title kings were 13 points clear at the time with eight games to play and the game’s rulers awarded the flag to the Parkhead club as they agreed there was only one likely destination for the glittering prize.
Unfortunately, the bid for a record-breaking tenth successive crown went off the rails and Lennon exited the club on February 24 2021, just three days after an inexplicable 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Ross County in Dingwall.
THE FINAL FAREWELL…Neil Lennon takes the long walk off the Ross County pitch following his final game in charge of Celtic, a dismal 1-0 loss in Dingwall.
Any hopes the Irishman had of a quickfire return to the dug-out never materialised and, remarkably, 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.
He replaced former Ibrox defender Henning Berg and on the iconic date of May 25, the new head coach led the club to the national Cup when they overcame Ethnikos Achna on penalty-kicks after extra-time.
Lennon led his team to a shock 4-0 aggregate triumph over Belgian side to qualify for the Europa League group stage where they came so close to matching mighty Manchester United, home and away, losing out to late goals on both occasions.
Despite the European heroics, the gaffer was sacked on October 18 2022 due to disappointing results in the domestic league.
GOOD GRIEF…Neil Lennon cannot disguise his anguish at a media conference in Nicosia.
Precisely 12 months later, Lennon remains on the outside looking in although he has been linked with the manager’s job at the Republic of Ireland with Stephen Kenny under pressure following failure to reach the Euro 24 Championship Finals in Germany next summer.
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 a praiseworthy record that deserves the utmost respect. It only adds to the mystery of why a team boss with such a pedigree is left with just media work to keep in contact with football these days.