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Neil Lennon will be a phenomenal appointment for Celtic squad, says skipper

Celtic 2 Hearts 1

Treble ahead: Neil Lennon beams with pride as he raises the Scottish Cup
Treble ahead: Neil Lennon beams with pride as he raises the Scottish Cup
Neil Lennon celebrates Celtic’s historic success with captain Scott Brown

By Gavin McCafferty

Scott Brown has backed Neil Lennon to continue the winning mentality at Celtic after the manager was offered a long-term extension to his contract.

Celtic made the dramatic move in the immediate aftermath of their William Hill Scottish Cup final win over Hearts, with the deal expected to be finalised in the coming days.

Lennon returned to Celtic Park in February following Brendan Rodgers' sudden exit for Leicester City and has helped deliver the treble treble, with the champions ultimately finishing nine points ahead of Rangers in the league.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder has now managed to get Celtic over the line in four of their eight consecutive title triumphs, and Brown is in no doubt he will continue to pass on his will to win to the players.

Ahead of the impending appointment, the midfielder said: "He was phenomenal for me first time around and he will be phenomenal for the lads.

"They will all learn because he's a winner. He wants to win trophies and he's in the right place for that.

"He will go away and have a little holiday and let his hair down and then he will come in, there is a lot of recruitment to be done. He will bring in new players, he will bring in quality players.

"He has done that in the past, he brought in Victor (Wanyama), he brought in Virg (Van Dijk). He's got a great eye for a player and I am sure he will do that again."

Brown also described Celtic's achievements this season as "phenomenal" after they made it an unprecedented nine consecutive domestic trophies with a 2-1 victory over Hearts.

Ryan Edwards gave the underdogs the lead in the 52nd minute but Odsonne Edouard soon equalised from the penalty spot and the French striker clinched the win eight minutes from time.

"The lads have worked well all season," Brown added.

"We have had to dig deep in some games. A lot of people wrote us off, said we have not had a great season but we've won the three trophies that were there for us to win.

"Yet again we have managed to go 1-0 down, possibly we got a little bit lucky but we have scored two phenomenal goals.

"Odsonne, the way he has taken the penalty under that much pressure, all the Hearts players walking up to him and trying to put him under.

"They always try that, it's Craig Levein's tactic and that's what he tries to do, but yet again Odsonne is better than that."

Celtic have now won on 11 consecutive trips to Hampden, and Brown feels their mentality shines through on the big occasion.

"We just believe," the 33-year-old said. "Brendan set the mindset coming to Hampden that we would dominate games, score goals and create chances, and defend better than we ever did before.

"We are a lot fitter than we have ever been in our careers and we keep pushing. It's that belief in each other. When we look around, we know there are goals all around the park.

"I'm very proud to have captained the lads, to have played with some of the superstars we have got in this team. Here's hoping for a lot more (trophies).

"We need to make sure we get Champions League now, we need to push for that and make sure we start the season really well."

On his impending return to the Parkhead dugout, Lennon said: "It means everything. It's a privilege. It was a privilege the first time. Nine years ago I was younger and a bit more robust, if you want to call it that. Now, I've come full circle.

"Four years ago, I left the club on good terms and I always had as an objective to one day perhaps come back and manage here again. So this moment has arrived, but it's been hard work.

"I had a difficult time at Bolton, for reasons not within football, and then I had a great couple of years at Hibs, and I owe them a debt of gratitude for giving me the platform to get back in this position again.

"I had four great years - it was great learning and great experiences, and when the time came, we sat down and shook hands, and left on very cordial terms.

"There's talks to go through but I don't think it will take much to get it done."

CELTIC: Bain, Simunovic, Brown, Hayes (Bitton, 88 mins), Rogic (Ntcham, 70 mins), Edouard, Lustig, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest, Johnston (Sinclair, 71 mins). Unused subs: De Vries, Toljan, Bitton, Benkovic, Dembele.

Hearts: Zlamal, M Smith, Souttar, Haring (Bozanic, 80 mins), Berra, Clare (Wighton, 75 mins), Djoum, MacLean (Ikpeazu, 78 mins), Edwards, Mulraney, Hickey. Unused subs: Doyle, Shaughnessy, Cochrane, Burns.

Referee: Willie Collum

Man of the match: Odsonne Edouard

Match rating: 7/10

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