Martin O’Neill On A Relationship That Took Neil Lennon from A Hovel In Crewe To 9 In A Row As Celtic Boss

Martin O’Neill was recently a guest on Sky Sports’ The Football Show. Interviewed by Jamie Redknapp, the Irishman was asked what his biggest mistake as a manager was. He responded in typical jovial fashion.

O’Neill stated that beginning a friendship and working relationship with Neil Lennon in 1996 was his lowest career point. The tongue in cheek remark, was then explained with a fine tale of where it all began:

“You talk about Celtic and you talk about Neil Lennon doing a job at this moment, he’s done exceptionally well. He was a bit of a character, feisty, but I signed him from Crewe Alexandra to Leicester and I think that eventually changed his life as much as anything else.”

O’Neill continued with a comical story of how that signing came about.

“John Robertson and I, we went up to try and get him to sign, because we really felt he would change the fortunes of Leicester City.We were in the Championship at the time, desperate to get promotion that year, and we go up to his place and his residence was a bit of a hovel to be perfectly honest. Even the mice were refusing the cheese that was about the place. But John had this idea that we will not leave his until he absolutely decides to come and join us.

“So, it’s half three in the morning, when we bored him into submission, he said, ‘yeah, alright, I’ll sign’. And you mentioned now, with all the great times that he has had, whether it was a mistake to sign him, maybe it was… I’m only joking.”

The pair of course won trophies in England and then in Scotland together, whilst they almost lifted the UEFA Cup in 2003.

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About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up in Bournemouth with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic as a young child during the Martin O'Neill era. Still living on the south coast, I have a season ticket at Paradise and also travel to European away matches when possible. At the age of 19, I published my first Celtic book (Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support). Then, last year, I published my second book (Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events), which is sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores.

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