Pat McGibbon has backed his good pal and former Northern Ireland team-mate Neil Lennon to shake off the disappointment of his Celtic exit and return to football.
Lennon left the Parkhead hotseat with his side 18 points behind Rangers in the Scottish Premiership.
Celtic's hopes of winning 10 straight titles faded rapidly, and the Ulsterman, who took charge of the Hoops for a second spell in February 2019 - winning two Premiership titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup - is now left reflecting on what might have been.
In his younger years in Lurgan, McGibbon had huge respect for Lennon, who played in the same Gaelic team as his late brother Phillip.
Phillip sadly took his own life when Pat was a teenager and Lennon has helped McGibbon promote mental health awareness.
Lennon has opened up about his own struggles with depression in the past and in 2018 he joined former Northern Ireland team-mates David Healy and Roy Carroll at an event in Lurgan in aid of the charity Train To Be Smart (TTBS) set up by McGibbon in honour of Phillip.
Former Manchester United and Wigan defender McGibbon is now backing his Lurgan pal to make a comeback.
"I don't think Neil is finished with football," said McGibbon.
"He will recharge his batteries and go again. Neil has always been highly driven, and management is very difficult generally, but whenever you are in the goldfish bowl which is Glasgow and Rangers are improving, then it's tough, but I've no doubt Neil will be back at it.
"He's an intelligent lad, delivers when in his media work and he'll be back when the time is right."
McGibbon was very grateful for Lennon's help in promoting mental health awareness.
"He was really good with us, and that was a great event with Neil, David Healy and Roy Carroll," added McGibbon.
McGibbon added: “I wish him well. Neil was a few years older than me and played in the same Gaelic team at St Michael’s with Phillip. He was an accomplished Gaelic and football player and an inspiration to someone like me.
“I think he played for Armagh Minors the year before he headed across to England.
“I never realised how good Neil was until I trained with him. He rarely gave the ball away. He was as good a player in that position as I have seen. I can remember reading the Opta stats and, after Roy Keane, Neil was the second best midfielder following his performances for Leicester City.
“As a player and manager he’s had a lot of success with Celtic but these things happen within football at every level. There’s a lot of dynamics to management and now he has to dust himself down, recharge and go again. He’ll be back, jobs will come up and he won’t dive into the first opportunity.”
Another of Lennon’s former Northern Ireland team-mates, Gerry Taggart, who played with his friend for Lurgan Celtic Boys Club, Hillsborough Boys and Leicester City, is also thinking of his pal this week.
“I’d like to send Neil my best wishes,” he said.
Lennon said: “I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters. The club will always be part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic.”
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes claims Celtic’s struggle to keep pace with Rangers cannot be pinned solely on Lennon.
McInnes takes his team to Celtic Park tomorrow and is disappointed not to be facing Lennon, who won the first five domestic trophies on offer during his second spell in charge.
“I class Neil as a friend and a colleague and we have been well-versed to playing against each other both as player and manager,” he said. “He is someone I have a high regard for.
“It’s really disappointing to see any manager lose his job but I know how important the Celtic job is and was to Neil.
“He is a very successful Celtic manager.
“When you see the difference points-wise Celtic to Rangers, it’s more than a manager at fault there if people are blaming anybody.
“Time will be kind to Neil.”