LEIGH GRIFFITHS has savaged Neil Lennon and insisted his former boss had a go at him to keep himself relevant.
And the 31-year-old striker is adamant his Celtic career is NOT over after agreeing a season-long loan deal at Dundee.
Griffiths and Lennon have been involved in verbal volleys ever since the Irishman criticised the former Scotland international’s condition after the Hoops’ players’ four-month self-isolation during the Covid lockdown. The gaffer reckoned the frontman was about a stone overweight.
The once-prolific forward, who has netted a mere 25 goals in his past three years at Parkhead, was axed from the club’s four-game pre-season tour of France as the team prepared for their ill-fated campaign where their quest for the historic tenth successive title came off the rails shortly after the turn of the year.
HOOPY DAZE…Leigh Griffiths celebrates one of his 123 goals for Celtic.
Lennon, who signed the player from Wolves for £1.2million in his first stint as boss in January 2014, departed in February after one inexplicable loss too many – a 1-0 flop against Ross County in Dingwall – and the one-time fans’ favourite reckoned he was given a raw deal while the manager was still in charge.
Griffiths, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I don’t really want to keep talking about him because he is going to come back and he is going to have his bit to say.
“I don’t want to go tit for tat. I have said my piece, he has said his.
“I just want to leave it there. If I ever see him in the street, then we will probably have a couple of words to say to each other.
“But I am not going to keep battering him in the press because I don’t want it to be all about what Neil Lennon says to keep him in the loop kind of thing. He is out of a job now and he is trying to keep himself relevant.
“For me, it is all about my time here at Dundee and making sure I am playing well, scoring goals and helping the team hit that top six.”
THE WAY WE WERE…Leigh Griffiths and Brendan Rodgers after a game against Partick Thistle in 2017.
Astonishingly, Griffiths believes he still has a future at Celtic, despite failing to kick a ball for Ange Postecoglou in a competitive fixture before he switch to his former Dens Park club where he spent two years before moving to Wolves.
The frontman had the last 12 months of his Hoops contract activated by the incoming boss in June and there will only be four weeks on the deal when his temporary transfer expires on Tayside. His days in the green and white hoops look numbered, as CQN reported on deadline day.
However, the player sees it differently and said defiantly: “I’m still contracted to Celtic, so this is an opportunity to showcase myself, staying in Scotland, showing that I can still score goals.
“The manager will be able to get access to all my games, he’ll be watching how I’m doing. I need to look forward, especially playing at Dundee in a good attacking side, to show that I can still cut it.
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW…Leigh Griffiths makes his appearance against West Ham in July.
“Everybody’s emotional state is going to take a bit of a dive when you’re not playing. It’s just about trying to stay focused, stay calm, do what you can in training – and wait for your opportunity.
“For me, that opportunity at Celtic didn’t come. So, I’m looking forward to being here, showing what I can do and, hopefully, I can go back to Celtic a better player.”
Griffiths was given a frosty reception with a few jeers clearly audible from a section of the support when he came on as a substitute against West Ham in the pre-season friendly at Parkhead.
The fans made their obvious displeasure obvious after the striker had been sent home from the club’s training camp in Wales due to an off-the-field issue.
Griffiths managed to joke: “If I’d stayed at Celtic I’d probably be the only player to be booed home and away!
“But the Celtic fans have been brilliant with me since day one. They are some of the best fans I have ever played under.
“Yes, it hurt being booed, but people are allowed to voice their opinion.
“Listen, it is done with now and I don’t have a bad word to say about the fans, the club, the people who work there.
“They have been first class for the last seven-and-a-half years. Hopefully I still have a future there.”
HAND IT TO HIM…Leigh Griffiths applauds new boss Ange Postecoglou.
Griffiths also had the highest praise for Lennon’s replacement, former Australia international chief Postecoglou.
The man who has scored 123 goals for Celtic added: “He is a great guy who has brought something new to the club that hasn’t been there since Brendan Rodgers.
“He is a great guy and I wish him all the best for this season.
“There is no bad blood there and Ange has been different class since he came into Celtic, great for me and the rest of the boys. I won’t have a bad word said about him.
“His training was first class. I just had a disrupted pre-season and was then trying to catch up with the boys, who were flying.
“But I’m at the age where I want to play games and start scoring goals again.”