NEIL LENNON has admitted it is an “honour” to be asked to return to Celtic as interim manager on the day Brendan Rodgers sensationally quit to agree a three-year deal at Leicester City.
Lennon, who left Parkhead five years ago, will be in charge against Hearts at Tynecastle tomorrow night and will be joined in the dug-out by John Kennedy as his assistant and Damien Duff as first team coach.
The former skipper and manager, who was installed as boss until the end of the season, will kick off his second managerial stint at the Hoops against Craig Levein’s outfit in the Premiership as the champions bid to maintain their eight-point lead at the top.
Coincidentally, he will return to Edinburgh on Saturday evening to face Hibs, the club he left in acrimonious circumstances last month, in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Easter Road.
Lennon told the club website:“I am absolutely delighted to be named manager of Celtic again. This is a club which has been such a huge part of my life already and it is an honour to be asked to return.
TWO OF A KIND…Neil Lennon, as manager of Hibs, and Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers embrace in December.
“I have given everything to Celtic as a player and manager already in my career and I am ready to do the same again. I will be doing all I can to continue the great work that has gone on in recent years.
“I am delighted that John Kennedy and Damien Duff have agreed to be part of my team. John will allow us to have important continuity and Damien will bring real knowledge and experience to the first team squad.
PARADISE LOST…Brendan Rodgers at Celtic Park.
“I am returning to one of the biggest and best clubs in world football and I can’t wait to get started.”
Ex-boss Rodgers stunned the fans with his swift exit, but as the day’s astonishing turn of events settled, he took the opportunity to thank the Hoops fans for their support during his 36-month stint at Parkhead.
Rodgers, who won back-to-back clean sweeps and was on the brink of a historic treble, said in a statement on the Celtic website: “It has been a real honour to serve the club and its supporters across the past three seasons.
“I have been a Celtic supporter all my life and the reason I came to Glasgow was to work for the club I had such love and affection for.
“From the moment I walked into Celtic Park, I have been living my dream and, together with the players, staff and supporters, we have been on an amazing journey, which I will never forget.
“To be welcomed in the way I was on my first day at Celtic Park is something I will always treasure. From that day I have given my all to the role of Celtic manager. I would like to sincerely thank the Board at Celtic for giving me the opportunity to manage Celtic in the first place and for the support they have given me throughout my time as manager.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Peter, Ian, Dermot and the rest of the Celtic Board and together we have done everything we could to bring success to our supporters.
“I want to make a special mention to the Celtic players. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and I want to thank them all for the commitment and positivity they gave to my coaching philosophy each and every day.
“Every one of them will be a friend for life.
“Celtic is in great hands for the future and I am sure the club is in a wonderful position to continue to dominate Scottish football and do well in Europe, I know that will be the aim of everyone at the club.
“Celtic will always be my club and I wish everyone connected to Celtic – the Board of Directors, the staff and, of course, the Celtic supporters – every success in the future.”
Rodgers shocked football this morning when he quit the champions to have talks with the Premier League outfit who made their move for the Irishman after sacking Claude Puel at the weekend following a 4-1 loss at home against Crystal Palace.
The former gaffer told the players yesterday of his intentions before today’s incredible happenings unfolded.