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NEIL LENNON – AND HIS STARTER FOR TEN

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NEIL LENNON will celebrate his 20th anniversary as a Celtic legend in six days’ time.

Martin O’Neill paid £6million to Leicester City to sign the Northern Ireland international dynamo on December 8 2000.

And the fierce midfield competitor as a key component in his team that achieved the most spectacular somersault of fortunes in Scottish football in season 2000/01.

The side had limped in a massive TWENTY-ONE points adrift of Rangers in the previous league campaign and had also been knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Highland minnows Inverness Caley Thistle.

Rookie boss John Barnes had been sacked two days after the sensational exit from the national competition and club icon Kenny Dalglish took over in an interim capacity and won the League Cup before making way for the incoming O’Neill.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’.

It’s in the history book that the Irishman conjured up an extraordinary swing in fortunes with the team winning the title with a points tally of ninety-seven setting a new record, seven better than the previous best. It was also won by fifteen points from Dick Advocaat’s Ibrox outfit, a staggering THIRTY-SIX point swing in a year.

Author Alex Gordon highlights a gloriously memorable season in his latest Celtic book, ’50 Flags Plus One’ – his fifteenth tribute tome on the Parkhead club – and the part Lennon played in that success.

The Hoops swept to only the side’s third domestic clean sweep of all three honours with O’Neill following the legendary Jock Stein who completed the previous two silverware successes in 1966/67 and 1968/69.

At the completion of a remarkable season, Lennon, who had only been at the club for five months, was celebrating the 3-0 Scottish Cup Final victory over Hibs on a sun-kissed Hampden Park after Henrik Larsson, with a double salvo, and Jackie McNamara had scored the goals.

Lennon waved to the adoring crowds and said: “It’s been unbelievable since I came up here in December. Honestly, I did not expect this to happen. Not at all.

“I thought I was coming up to join a team to give Rangers a run for their money in the league. We’ve surpassed everything that has been asked of us.

“I’m now going to take it easy for a few weeks and reflect on this season.

“Mind you, we have now set ourselves exceptional standards and we’ll just have to do it all again next season.”

Little did Neil Lennon know he would win TEN championships at Celtic – five as a player and five as a manager.

Hopefully, there will be more to follow.

* ‘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’.

 
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