TWO years ago today, Neil Lennon agreed to return to Celtic as interim manager in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ hasty exit for Leicester City.
By a stroke of fortune, the Hoops legend had just quit his managerial post at Hibs the previous month and did not take too much persuasion to once again accept the challenge of leading the Parkhead side.
In his previous stint, he has delivered three titles before leaving in the summer of 2014 before the arrival of Norwegian Ronny Deila.
Lennon was tasked with keeping the club on track for an eighth successive crown. There wasn’t much time for the former team captain, who collected five winners’ medals in the reigns of Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan, to draw breath before he was pitched into the dug-out.
SILVER SMILE…Neil Lennon with the ninth successive league title.
Twenty-four hours after taking the job, Lennon led the team to Edinburgh for a crucial Premiership encounter against Craig Levein’s Hearts at Tynecastle. It was imperative the side didn’t stutter in their pursuit of another coveted flag.
The gritty gaffer didn’t let anyone down. James Forrest, a player he had introduced to the top side in his first-time around spell, scored the first goal on his glorious comeback. The home side levelled with a penalty-kick and it was deadlocked at 1-1 in the fading moments before skipper Scott Brown lofted a cross into the penalty box and Odsonne Edouard applied the finishing touch.
Cue bedlam on the pitch and in the dug-out. Welcome back, Lenny!
IF YOU KNOW THE HISTORY…Neil Lennon’s remarkable ten championship triumphs are chronicled in author Alex Gordon’s latest Celtic book.
It’s in the history books now that the the returning gaffer won the championship and added a Scottish Cup for good measure. He was appointed permanent manager after the 2-1 Hampden success – coincidentally also against Hearts – on the iconic date of May 25.
Last season, Lennon added the ninth flag in a row and also the Betfred League Cup. On December 20 last year, the team lifted the delayed Scottish Cup to seal a phenomenal quadruple treble – again against the Edinburgh outfit.
The penalty-kick shoot-out triumph also lofted Lennon onto a celebrated level with Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill and Brendan Rodgers as a Celtic boss to win the domestic treble.
Two years after his sensational return, Lennon and Celtic have parted company again.
Thank you for the memories, Lenny. We wish you success in the future.
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM…Neil Lennon arrives at Tynecastle on February 27, 2019.
WELCOME BACK, OLD FRIEND…Lennon is greeted by Hearts boss Craig Levein at the start.
DUG-OUT CHAT…Lennon speaks to Damien Duff before kick-off.
THE WAY AHEAD…Lennon makes a point on the touchline.
IN WITH A SHOUT…Lennon yells out instructions.
JOY BHOYS…Scott Brown, Ewan Henderson and Kieran Tierney celebrate James Forrest’s opening goal.
FRENCH FANCY…Odsonne Edouard races away after netting the last-gasp winner.
HIGH JUMP…Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown and Scott Bain lead the aftermatch celebrations.
BRING IT ON…Lennon in defiant pose.
SOME NOISE FOR THE BHOYS…Lennon cups his ears at the grand finale.
HAIL THE RETURNING HERO…Lennon salutes the celebrating fans at full-time.