Celtic boss Neil Lennon celebrates perfect 10
Neil Lennon sported a shock crop of bleached blonde hair the day he walked into Parkhead a decade ago.
The man who would go on to become boss prefers a more sophisticated look these days as he celebrates his ten years at the club since fellow Ulsterman Martin O’Neill snapped him up from Leicester City.
And former Hoops striker Tommy Johnson says it was one of the greatest signings O’Neill made in his time at Parkhead.
“Martin made a lot of inspired signings during his time at Celtic, but Lenny must rank as one of the best,” he says.
“Guys like Chris Sutton and Alan Thompson were brought from the Premiership and made a huge impact, but Lenny's contribution has been immense.
“Not many people nowadays stay at the same club for 10 years, but Lenny has given everything to Celtic.
“His record as a player was phenomenal and he's now been trusted to take Celtic forward.
“When Martin signed him, we knew we were getting a good player and a big character.
“But we could never have envisaged just how big an impact he would have at Parkhead.
“After playing with him for a while, I thought he would become Celtic boss one day, but it's happened faster than Lenny thought it would.
“But he is the right man to bring success back to Celtic. The club is in his heart.”
The past decade has seen Lennon — who took over as boss when Tony Mowbray was sacked last season — win ten trophies as a player and he also played his part in taking Celtic to the last 16 of the Champions League and to the UEFA Cup Final.
In his 304 appearances he won five league titles, three Scottish Cups and two League Cups, heading back to England for brief spells with Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers to end his playing career, before returning to Parkhead to begin his coaching career.
Former Celtic keeper Rab Douglas says Northern Ireland international Lennon has repaid that £5.75million move from Leicester ten years ago many times over.
“Celtic paid a lot of money for him, but he justified that outlay. He was first-class as a player and is now first-class as a manager,” he said. “I know a lot has been made recently of his relationship with referees, but that has always been his way.
“What you have to remember is the entire squad he played with was like that. Lenny just stuck out more.
“When he joined the club, I have to admit I didn’t know too much about him, other than that Leicester had been so keen to prevent him following Martin O’Neill that they had given him a new contract.”