‘Boybands, Kim Jong-Il and whippings’, Neil Lennon’s tenure as Hibernian manager in his own extraordinary words

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

AS Hibernian begin the search for Neil Lennon’s successor, there is little doubt the sports pages and nightly news broadcasts will be poorer places without the Northern Irishman’s regular media conferences and post-match appraisals.

From the jibes in jest to the deadly serious, there was never a dull moment on the Hibs beat with Lennon in situ at Easter Road.

Here we look back on his tenure through some of his best quotes.

Lennon outlines his plan to toughen the Hibees up in his very first press conference after being named Alan Stubbs’ successor at Easter Road.

Boyband, boyband. That’s what I felt about Hibs, from when I first came to Scottish football as a player for Celtic,” – June 2016

Lennon rails against the public perception of him after a touchline bust-up with former Morton manager Jim Duffy.

“I see the punters in the street talking about me and saying ‘Lennon is at it again. He brings it on himself’, the usual s***e. Jim (Duffy) has made a joke of it and said ‘maybe I should ask Lenny what it is like to go to the SFA’. I don’t find it funny,” – March 2017.

However, his first season in Leith proves plain sailing as he guides them to the Championship title, a feat he claimed was comparable with his Celtic glory days.

“It’s up there. I had some great days at Celtic – great scenes – and this is just as good,” – April 2017.

After defeating Rangers 3-2 at Ibrox, Lennon bats away suggestions from Pedro Caixinha that he did not show enough respect.

“I even complimented his team’s performance after the game. Other than kiss his feet, how much respect does he want me to give him?” – August 2017.

He gave similarly short shrift to a statement from Gers fans’ group Club 1872, suggesting his celebrations in the same game were incendiary.

“It looked like it was written by a 15-year-old,” – August 2017

After Craig Levein stated that a 1-0 derby win for Hearts represented ‘natural order’ being restored, Lennon erupted.

“What does that mean? I don’t understand that. What is the natural order? It’s just a crock of crap,” – January 2018

And he was still fuming a few days later . . .

“I didn’t find it funny. I thought it was derogatory to my club, to my players to my supporters and to me. He didn’t come for a drink after the game to explain himself, so the gloves are off now,” – January 2018.

The press corps were soon in his sights regarding the way his criticisms of referees are portrayed in the media.

“You treat me like Kim Jong-Il, like I’m sitting with the button about to go like that on referees – I’m not,” – February 2018.

As Hibs blow the chance to finish second in the Premiership last term by losing 2-0 against Hearts, Lennon sensationally revealed he would consider quitting.

“We look like we’re going to finish fourth. It’s unacceptable. I will be considering my position over the summer,” – May 2018.

The campaign ends with a 5-5 draw against Rangers, prompting his famous ‘aeroplane’ celebration.

“Well they [Rangers supporters] make it personal don’t they? You all hear it. They are singing sectarian songs at me. It’s just a little bit of ‘Have some of that’,” – May 2018.

Lennon after being struck by a coin thrown from the main stand at Tynecastle during an ill-tempered 0-0 draw against Hearts.

“I would like to meet that person in person. People will say I was winding the crowd up. I wasn’t I was just giving a bit back for the abuse I was taking for 90 minutes. But people say Neil Lennon brings it on himself, he deserves to get hit by a coin or whatever,” – October 2018.

After images of graffiti reading ‘Hang Neil Lennon’ emerge in Gorgie, Lennon discusses the abuse he endures in wider terms.

“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you are not just abusing the colour of his skin, you are abusing his culture, his heritage, his background. It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier,” – November 2018.

In Lennon’s final press conference as Hibernian head coach, he vows to ‘keep whipping’ hjs underperforming squad.

“I can’t keep whipping them – but I will do until I get a response. How else are you supposed to approach it? You can’t go, ‘it’s all right lads, we’ll move on to the next game,” January 2019.

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