NEIL LENNON kicked off his second spell as Celtic manager with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle – only one day after accepting the job following Brendan Rodgers’ rapid and unexpected departure.
Since that thrilling and eventful evening in the capital, the Irishman has faced Hearts a further five times – and has a 100 per cent record. Overall, the Hoops have hit 16 and conceded four.
James Forrest and Odsonne Edouard, with a stoppage-time points-clincher, were the men who mattered in the comeback triumph on February 27 last year.
Mikey Johnston netted two in the final league clash of the campaign in another 2-1 win and, remarkably, the scoreline was repeated for a third time when the clubs met in the Scottish Cup Final on May 25 at Hampden.
Edouard claimed the strikes – one from the penalty spot – as the holders fought back from the shock of a Ryan Edwards opener for the Tynecastle side shortly after the interval.
There will be an action replay at the national stadium when Lennon once again prepares his side for a tussle against the Edinburgh men as the Hoops go in search of their twelfth successive domestic honour to complete the historic quadruple treble.
Last season, the champions eased to three victories – 3-1 and 5-0 in Glasgow and 2-0 in Edinburgh – before the campaign was ended prematurely with Celtic leading the Premiership by 13 points with only eight games to play. Deservedly, they were awarded their ninth consecutive championship.
READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’.
Author Alex Gordon recalls the sensational Lennon comeback and the subsequent titles in his latest Cetlic book,’50 Flags Plus One’.
It was an evening of raw passion on the night Lennon stepped back into the dug-out as the man in charge.
Alex, a veteran of fifteen Celtic books, writes: “Within hours of Rodgers’ exit, Neil Lennon, who, with fortuitous timing, had left Hibs the previous month, agreed to return to the club in an interim basis until the end of the season.
“By the end of a day of breathtaking events, the former skipper was in the managerial chair at Parkhead and the ex-gaffer was in the stand at the King Power stadium watching his new team beat Brighton 2-1 in front of 30,558 spectators.
“With the kick-off to a Premiership encounter against Hearts just over thirty hours away, Lennon probably didn’t have time to detect the ice cracking under the weight of expectation. Celtic were eight points clear at the top of the table at the time, but a slip at Tynecastle, where they had carelessly shed three points in August, would have invited Steven Gerrard and Co into the cherished belief they could capitalise on the perceived calamitous upheaval across the city.
“Heading towards the regulation ninety minutes, Celtic were toiling 1-1 against a team playing with a man short following a first-half red card for Jamie Brandon after the defender had waywardly clattered on-loan German right-back Jeremy Toljan in the face with a flailing arm. At the same time at Ibrox, Rangers were coasting to a 4-0 triumph over Dundee, a team destined for the gallows.
“Two points looked like being removed from the champions’ advantage until, a couple of minutes into stoppage-time, Scott Brown pitched an inviting ball into a busy penalty area. Odsonne Edouard, from eight yards, looked the most composed individual in the vicinity as he nonchalantly clipped the ball wide of keeper Bobby Zamal.
“The final whistle sounded only moments later. Relief was evident as the players danced and cavorted in front of the travelling support. No such emotion existed in Govan when the final scoreline was announced. James Forrest had opened the scoring with a textbook breakaway goal before an unnecessary mix-up between Scott Bain and Kristoffer Ajer shortly after the turnaround presented the home side with a penalty-kick and Oliver Bozanic tucked it away.
“As you would expect, Neil Lennon was a happy – and mightily relieved – individual afterwards. Answering what it might take to get the Celtic manager’s job on a permanent basis, the forty-seven-year-old former boss and club captain said: ‘I might have to win everything because of the bar being set so high’.
“The remark was delivered with a rueful grin.”
The amazing about-turn in the managerial position is told with insider knowledge by Alex Gordon, a former sports editor of the best-selling Sunday Mail, and his latest publication is acclaimed by club legend and Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld as “a truly unique tribute to Celtic”.
50 Flags Plus One’ highlights the dramatic and thrilling 2005/06 campaign and is told with insider knowledge by Alex Gordon, a former sports editor of the best-selling Sunday Mail, and his latest publication is acclaimed by club legend and Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld as “a truly unique tribute to Celtic”.
CQN Bookstore is the only place to buy the book – and we are giving away a copy of ‘SEVILLE: The Celtic Movement‘ ABSOLUTELY FREE with every order.
Please hurry – the offer is limited to while stocks last and they are going fast.
’50 Flags Plus One’ is the unique collection of hitherto unknown tales behind the fifty-one title triumphs in Celtic’s glorious history.
* BEHIND THE SCENES: The countdown to Brendan Rodgers’ shock decision to quit.
* REVEALED! The half-time pep talk by Jock Stein against Rangers that sparked the first nine-in-a-row title sequence.
* FROM the dole to title delight – how things changed so dramatically and gloriously for a Celtic legend in the club’s Centenary Year.
* DAVIE HAY reveals how Hearts HELPED Celtic to overcome the Edinburgh team in the dramatic race for the 1986 title.
* THE day Neil Lennon threatened to quit in his first spell as Celtic manager.
* THE History Bhoys – the day Celtic won TWO games in the same day to claim their thirteenth title.
* FIFTY-GOAL Jimmy McGrory ends a decade in the doldrums with eighteenth flag in 1936.
* THE Jimmy Johnstone Show – Celtic icons remember the day Wee Jinky ran amok at Ibrox. And the team won their second successive title in the nine-in-a-row glory days.
* JOCK STEIN’S heartfelt salute to Celtic greats after the Lions’ Last Hurrah with title victory in 1971.
* BIG Jock’s tenth championship – the legend goes out with another remarkable title triumph in 1977. The legend talks about dealing with tension in a thrilling campaign that was capped with a Scottish Cup victory over Rangers. Discover what Kenny Dalglish did to bewilder the Celtic manager.
* ‘CELTIC are a fairy-tale football club,’ insisted Billy McNeill on his return to Parkhead as manager. And his first-season success with the championship – and the transfers that made it happen.
* THE night ten men won the league. Why Billy McNeill threatened to throw red-card culprit Johnny Doyle ONTO the field.
* ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’ celebrates the club’s remarkable fifty-one league championships in their glorious history. To order a copy – and get a FREE book, ‘Seville: The Celtic Movement’ – please go to: ‘CELTIC: 50 Flags Plus One’.
* PLEASE note that CQN will be processing orders as swiftly as possible to make certain the books are with you well in time for Christmas. The Post Office has stressed the importance of having the books processed early and to allow three working days for the books to be shipped. All orders before midnight tomorrow, December 17, WILL be in the mail the following morning for pick up and delivery. Hail! Hail!