NEIL LENNON insists he “will always be a Celtic supporter”.

The 49-year-old Irishman parted company with the Parkhead side late last night before the club made the offical announcement on the Stock Exchange this morning.

The party line is that Lennon “resigned”, but there is little doubt the boss’ exit from the club he has served so well as a player and a manager was hastened in the midst of a wretched season.

The Hoops were out of three trophies – the Champions League, the Europa League and the Betfred League Cup – before the end of November and are 18 points adrift in the league with only eight games still to play.

Lennon took charge for a second spell in February 2019 when Brendan Rodgers quit for Leicester City and led the club to two titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup.

Sunday night’s dreadful loss to Ross County was the last straw for the club’s hierarchy and No.2 John Kennedy will be in control of team matters for the visit of Aberdeen on Saturday. He will be in the dug-out for the remainder of the term.

Lennon, speaking in a club statement, said: “We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously.

“I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

“I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters.

“The club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.”

Celtic were adamant the former captain had “served the club with distinction as both player and manager”.

Peter Lawwell, who will retire from his chief executive post in June, said: “Neil has always been and will always be a true Celtic man and someone I will always hold in the highest regard.

“Personally, it is a sad day for me to see Neil leave. Neil is a man of quality and decency, he is someone who will always be part of the fabric of Celtic and someone who will always be welcomed at Celtic Park.”

Dermot Desmond, the club’s principal shareholder, added: “He has given so much to the club, and with his success over the last number of years – including winning a treble in his own right – he will be very difficult to replace.

“We thank Neil sincerely for all he has done for the club and we wish him every success going forward.”

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