Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Lennon assault was sectarian, say Celtic

Neil Lennon was attacked by two men in Glasgow
Neil Lennon was attacked by two men in Glasgow

Former Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon was knocked unconscious in an attack branded as “sectarian” by Celtic Football Club.

The Lurgan-born Celtic player turned coach was attacked by two men in the early hours of yesterday morning — just hours after Celtic lost their Old Firm clash with rivals Rangers.

Neil (37) had been out for a few drinks with a friend following the match and was targeted as he walked home in the Ashton Lane area of Glasgow. He was left with a black eye and a cut lip.

In a statement issued by Celtic Football Club, a spokesman said: “We can confirm that while walking home alone last night, Neil Lennon was the victim of a serious assault by two men.

“The assault came after Neil was subjected to sectarian abuse.

“It is understood that during the course of the attack, Neil lost consciousness. He was then taken by ambulance to hospital where his injuries were treated and he was later released.

“Strathclyde Police are carrying out an investigation into the assault and clearly Neil will fully co-operate with this.”

Lennon was taken to the Western Infirmary Hospital where he was treated for concussion and a cut to his eye.

Police were called to the scene of the assault at 12.25am yesterday.

A police spokesman confirmed a 37-year old man was assaulted and said the victim “did not wish to make a complaint” but enquiries would continue.

Both men police are seeking in connection with the assault are aged between 40 and 50.

One wore a black leather jacket while the second wore a light-coloured shirt.

A friend of Lennon’s, who had been out drinking with him prior to the assault but who did not wish to be named, told BBC Scotland he heard sectarian abuse being hurled at the former player as he left the pub.

The friend said Lennon was jumped from behind, hit over the head and knocked out by his two attackers who left him lying in the street.

Yesterday’s attack is the second time Lennon has been battered in the street in Glasgow.

In September 2003 two students were fined after an attack on Mr Lennon in Glasgow. The former Northern Ireland international was driving in the West End, close to his home, when the men chased his car and shouted abuse at him.

Earlier that year Lennon vowed he would never again play for his country because of a reported death threat.

Loyalist paramilitaries insisted that the warning was bogus, but Mr Lennon, a Catholic, said he was not prepared to suffer any more sectarian victimisation.

The latest incident comes weeks after the Celtic defender Darren O'Dea was fined after a disturbance outside a Glasgow nightclub.

He was issued with a £40 fixed penalty for a breach of the peace after being arrested following reports of a incident outside the Bamboo nightclub on 11 August.

Meanwhile, police said they were treating an attack on a 29-year-old man at a railway station near Glasgow, hours after the Old Firm match, as football related. Four youths dressed in green, white and yellow and thought to be Celtic supporters, left the victim with a fractured jaw and other facial and head injuries.

The man was attacked on the platform and tried to escape by getting on a train, but he was followed by the gang.

Detective Inspector John Harrington said: "This was a particularly nasty attack, which appears to have started in the street outside."

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