NEIL LENNON has paid a tribute to Peter Lawwell who will leave his Celtic cheif executive role in June.
The 61-year-old Hoops supremo is due to retire from the post he has held since 2003 after taking over from Ian McLeod.
Lennon, who was twice hired as team boss by Lawwell, admitted his departure at the end of an eventful season would be “a huge loss”.
The Irishman, speaking to Celtic TV, said: “He’s been brilliant to work with. We’ve had our fall-outs over the piece, but he’s been a huge positive influence on my career and many others.
“He’s a huge loss. Every decision he made he thought was best for the club. He was devoted to the club and I think he’ll be a huge miss.
“I was still playing when he came back. Player, coach, manager, we’ve been through a lot together, as well as other managers like Ronnie, Tony and Brendan.
“The success the club has had during his reign is absolutely phenomenal.
“I’m sad to see him go, but 17 years is a huge amount of time for a job as pressured as that.”
Lennon revealed the CEO had indicated more than once in recent years that he was planning to step down. Asked how supporters would view his contribution in years to come, the boss replied: “I can’t speak for fans and how they perceive other people’s record at the club.
“What I do know is that in a very highly-pressurised job he fought a lot of battles for the club, won a lot of battles for the club. On and off the field, we’ve made enormous strides in the last 17 years.
“He knew he had to make decisions that wouldn’t be popular, but the overriding theory behind it was that it was the best thing for the club at all times.
“There’s no question for me that he always put the club first, whether it be popular with people or not. That’s the strength of the man. A strong leader and a very good presence and influence for everyone around the club.”
Lennon added: “You’ve got three Champions League last 16s, 13 league titles, a quadruple treble, wins over Barcelona, Manchester United, Lazio. You’ve got Van Dijk, Forster, Wanyama, Tierney, Dembele, all these players who’ve come in and enhanced the club on the field and then left for vast amounts of money.
“Only in the last couple of days we’ve taken a young player from Manchester City and sold him for a huge amount of money.
“It’s phenomenal the work that he’s put in at the club.”