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Ajax's slaying of Madrid something Celtic could replicate, says Neil Lennon


Ambitions: Neil Lennon wants Celtic to make Euro impact
Ambitions: Neil Lennon wants Celtic to make Euro impact

By Ronnie Esplin

Interim Celtic boss Neil Lennon believes Ajax should be a great inspiration to the Hoops in Europe.

The Dutch club are the talk of European football following their dismantling of holders Real Madrid in the Champions League last-16 tie, with the stunning 4-1 win at the Bernabeu on Tuesday night taking them through to the quarter-finals on a 5-3 aggregate.

In his first spell as Celtic manager, Lennon, who took over from Brendan Rodgers last month after fellow Northern Irishman departed for Leicester, guided the Parkhead club to the last 16 of the Champions League in 2013, where they lost to Juventus.

Neither his successor Ronny Deila nor Rodgers managed that feat.

Ahead of the visit of Aberdeen in the Ladbrokes Premiership today, Lennon said of Ajax: "It was magnificent but they have spent a bit of money.

"Dusan Tadic has gone in there for £15million to £18million.

"But it is fantastic and it should be a great inspiration for clubs like us. It takes a bit of time to build teams for that level. It took me three years to really build a good team to compete at a good level and get through the group.

"This team, with a few more additions, would be capable of competing at that level again."

While it remains to be seen if Lennon gets the chance of another European campaign with Celtic, he insisted he will have a part to play in shaping the club's future.

Scott Sinclair, Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig, Emilio Izaguirre, Cristian Gamboa and Dorus de Vries are out of contract at the end of the season. Loan men Jeremy Toljan, Oliver Burke, Timothy Weah and Filip Benkovic are all due to return to their parent clubs

The former Celtic skipper said: "I am meeting with Peter (Lawwell, chief executive) on Wednesday and with Lee (Congerton, head of recruitment) about recruitment going forward.

"It is just business as usual, club business. And I am part of that."

It will be Lennon's first game at Celtic Park since taking over from Rodgers and he faces an Aberdeen side who are 16 points behind in third place and who have a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against second-placed Rangers at Ibrox on Tuesday night.

Lennon added: "I don't know if they have one eye on Tuesday but knowing Derek (McInnes) he is a brilliant manager and he will have something up his sleeve for us, I'm sure."

Celtic vs Aberdeen

Ladbrokes Premiership:

Celtic Park, Today, 3pm

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