NEIL LENNON made personal history at Hampden following Celtic’s dramatic Scottish Cup Final penalty-kick shoot-out triumph over Hearts.
An enthralling grand finale saw the Parkhead side lift their twelfth successive domestic honour with a 4-3 spot-kick win following an exhausting 3-3 extra-time stalemate.
Keeper Conor Hazard, 22, emerged as an unlikely hero for the champions with penalty saves from Stephen Kinglsey and Craig Wighorn after Craig Gordon had denied ex-team mate Ryan Christie. However, Leigh Griffiths, Callum McGregor, Mikey Johnston and Kristoffer Ajer were all successful with their efforts.
The Hoops seemed to be cruising at half-time through goals from Christie, with a spectacular 20-yard curler into the top corner, and Odsonne Edouard, who scored a ‘Panenka’ spot-kick.
However, Tynecastle striker Liam Boyce reduced the deficit shortly after the turnaround and defender Kingsley levelled in the 66th minute to send the game into to extra-time.
Griffiths smashed the holders back into the lead in the 105th minute before Josh Ginnelly equalised again for Robbie Neilson’s outfit.
Lennon left the national stadium feeling “unique” after becoming the first individual in Scottish football to win the domestic treble as a player AND a manager.
The former club captain, who completed the clean sweep in 2001 as a midfielder under Martin O’Neill, watched his side complete an unprecedented quadruple treble with their 40th Scottish Cup win – also their fourth in a row, which is another record.
Lennon, speaking to Sky Sports News, said: “I must be doing something right. If it was that easy it would have been done long before me.
“It is unique. I feel unique at the minute – it is something very special to me.
“I said to the players: ‘I need this as much as you need it’. And you’ve seen them all at the end, how much they felt for me as well and my backroom team, who are important to me.
“It is a culmination of a lot of hard work over 20 years, but I feel fantastic. I know I don’t look it, but I feel it. It is very special to me. It is a great source of personal pride.
“I feel so proud and pride in my players and backroom staff. John Kennedy has been an absolute rock.
“So this is as much for him and I want to thank Peter Lawwell, Dermot Desmond and the board for all the support they gave me.
“It’s a great achievement. You will never see that again. They will talk about this group of players in 30, 40 years’ time and they will thoroughly deserve it. It is a monumental achievement.”
Lennon said of hero Hazard, making only his third first-team appearance: “I don’t know if the occasion got to him a little bit – he could have dealt with the third goal a little bit better. Or, as I said to him, I think he just wanted it to go to penalties to show off.
“But he is writing his own piece of history at the club, he made two fantastic saves when we really needed it.”