The Road We Have Travelled, And The Road Still Ahead
March 24th, 2010 – St Mirren 4 Celtic 0
In Tony Mowbray’s final game as Celtic manager, the Hoops suffer their worst defeat in years in front of just over 5,000 people in Paisley. Mowbray resigns the next day, and Neil Lennon becomes the caretaker boss of his beloved Celtic Football Club. Two players of note featured that night, Aiden McGeady, and Georgios Samaras.
10th April, 2010 – Ross County 2 Celtic 0
Despite winning his first two matches in charge of the Club, Neil Lennon watches his side struggle against lower league opposition, as Ross County knock the Hoops out of the Scottish Cup. Despite the fact this defeat is heavily criticised in the press, the support realise that it was not Lennon’s team who lost, but Mowbray’s. Once again, McGeady and Samaras feature.
13th August, 2010 – Aiden McGeady Departs
In a bold move, Neil Lennon allows Aiden McGeady to sign for Russian side Spartak Moscow, for an eye-watering fee (at least in terms of Scottish Football) of over£9 million.
2nd January, 2011 – Samaras Dines In Hell
Georgios Samaras, a maligned figure for many in the Celtic support, scores twice as Neil Lennon’s badly depleted side defeat rivals Rangers 0-2 at Ibrox in the New Year Derby. Samaras wins many of his doubters over with this, the first of many, improved performances as Lennon begins to bring the best out of the Greek Gazelle.
11th May, 2011 – Neil Lennon Is Attacked At Tynecastle
This night in Gorgie sees the culmination of a sustained, horrific, and totally unwarranted campaign by some against Celtic manager Neil Lennon. He is attacked in his technical area whilst doing his job by a Hearts supporter. Incredibly, a court later return a verdict of “not proven” with regards to this attack, which was caught live on television. At this stage, few Celtic fans would have blamed Neil for walking away for the sake of himself, and his family. However, Lennon remains resilient, and pushes on.
22nd May, 2011 – Neil Lennon’s Celtic Win The Scottish Cup
Celtic win their first piece of silverware at a rain drenched Hampden Park, as goals from Ki Sung Yueng and Charlie Mulgrew (as well as an own goal) help the Hoops to a memorable 3-0 victory.
7th April, 2012 – Celtic Become Champions
On this day, Celtic win the Scottish Premier League for the first time in four seasons. Despite many calling this title “tainted”, Lennon stands by his players and their achievement, as they confirm their status as the best team in Scotland with an emphatic 6-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
2nd October, 2012 – Celtic Win Away From Home In The Champions League
Earlier tonight, Neil Lennon and his Celtic side added to their list of achievements with a dramatic 3-2 win away from home in Moscow. With the score at 2-2, Georgios Samaras, the player whom many, including myself, would have sold for the right price less than two years previous, pops up with a fantastic header as Celtic snatch a late winner. Aiden McGeady, who has played well since his move to Russia, is kept quiet by a strong, determined Celtic. Neil Lennon succeeds where managers like Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan failed, as his Celtic side win away in Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 1986.
However, as Lennon once said, “this is not the end, this is just the beginning.”
Take a moment, and consider how far Celtic have come since that defeat in Paisley. Neil Lennon has grown as a manager, and, despite unmatched amounts of vitriol and adversity, he has prospered, as have his Celtic team. With a young developing side, as well as several youths beginning to stamp their mark on the senior side, the future is bright for the Hoops under Neil Lennon.
I, for one, cannot wait to see what he achieves in the future as Celtic manager. It truly is a privilege to have him in charge of the Football Club, and I have no doubts that we will all enjoy many more historic nights under his stewardship.
Ladies and gentlemen, bhoys and ghirls; the one; the only; Neil Francis Lennon.