Monday 5 December 2016

Threats will not force me out of Celtic, vows Lennon

Ronnie Esplin

Published 23/04/2011 | 05:00

Neil Lennon said yesterday that threats to his security would not deter him from his job as manager of Celtic Football Club.

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Strathclyde Police launched an investigation earlier in the week after parcels "designed to cause harm" were sent to the Celtic boss, Paul McBride QC and Scottish Labour Party politician Trish Godman. The latter two both have links with the Parkhead club.

Bullets were sent to Lennon earlier in the season and a suspicious package addressed to him was also intercepted.

Lennon, who is preparing his side for Sunday's Old Firm clash against Rangers at Ibrox, claims he has no regrets about taking over the job as Celtic manager on a full-time basis last summer.

"You get an opportunity to manage Celtic once in a lifetime," he said. "I would have regretted it the rest of my life if I hadn't taken it.

"It is not going to deter me from doing what I want to do.

Asked if this would have happened at any club other than Celtic, the Northern Irish Catholic said no, but alluded to the wider problem of sectarian bigotry. "A lot was said about that when I played. It's good that people are talking about it and we will get something done about it."

The former Northern Ireland captain, who comes from Co Armagh, said he was baffled that he could be the subject of "this type of poison in people".

"I am a football manager, not a politician. I have never talked about politics or talked about religion. I have tried to be as positive as I can about all things in Scottish football.

"I have had spats with people, yes, but that's just in my nature and I don't think that will change."

The former Armagh minor footballer described the situation as "pretty unprecedented" and said he hoped it was "not going to get out of hand".

"Anyone in any walk of life shouldn't have to deal with something like this.

Uncomfortable

"It is uncomfortable, you see your face every hour on the news and after a while you start thinking, 'is that me they are talking about?'.

"It is disconcerting, but I am well looked after by the people in charge and there is an ongoing investigation. I don't want to comment too much on that.

He continued: "I am not under armed guard or anything like that, but we have had to curtail a few things and change things about my lifestyle, which is unfortunate. But I am hoping things can be brought to a head.

"I'd like to thank the police for the professionalism they have shown and the security they have given me over the last 10 days. They have been absolutely fantastic and made life as easy as possible under the circumstances.

"I've had this for 10 years but I don't want to say you get used to it, because you never do."

He added: "For me, this is the greatest privilege in my life, to manage this football club and the support I've had from the fans and my close family and friends has been my strength.

"I'm totally committed to the club and supporters and certainly committed to the players."

Irish Independent

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