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I will always be a Celt, vows ousted Lennon

Ulsterman says club still part of him after giving in to fans' demands and resigning


Neil Lennon's second stint as Celtic manager is over.

Neil Lennon's second stint as Celtic manager is over.

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Neil Lennon's second stint as Celtic manager is over.

Neil Lennon insists he will always remain a Celtic supporter despite the acrimonious split with the Hoops support that finally pushed him out the Parkhead exit.

The Lurgan man - a servant to the club for more than 15 years as a player, captain, coach and then twice as manager, and also a lifelong supporter - has faced a wave of criticism and abuse over the last six months as the club's 10 in a row dream crumbled.

The campaign to oust him has now succeeded, with Celtic announcing to the stock exchange that the 49-year-old had resigned early yesterday.

Assistant manager John Kennedy will take over as caretaker boss as the Parkhead hierarchy begin their hunt for a replacement.

Former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe and Scotland manager Steve Clarke have emerged as the early favourites.

The fallout from Celtic's remarkable fall from grace has boiled and bubbled for weeks.

Fans clashed with police outside Celtic Park's front door as they protested November's Betfred Cup defeat to Ross County, while social media and radio phone-ins have been filled with demands for the manager to go.

For many, the news has come months too late, with all hope of rescuing their title dreams gone and the horror prospect of bitter rivals Rangers now winning their first league crown in a decade on Celtic's home turf when they meet on March 21 now close to becoming a reality.

It ends a remarkable relationship between a fanbase that once declared 'We are all Neil Lennon' in response to death threats aimed at the former Leicester midfielder.

But for all the bitterness of these past few days, Lennon insists he will always have Celtic in his heart.

"We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously," he said in a statement.

"I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

"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.

"I would like to thank so many people at the club who have given me so much and I would also like to thank my family for their love and support. I wish the Celtic supporters, players, staff and directors nothing but success for the future."

Belfast Telegraph

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