Neil Lennon: 'I'm most proud of how I dealt with all the flak'


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The Independent Football

There is still a genuine sense of shock when a football manager on these shores is sent a package containing bullets, as Neil Lennon, was in January 2011. Or sent two suspected parcel bombs, as he also was in March that same year.

A supporter at Hearts was also found guilty of a breach of the peace after running into the Tynecastle technical area to confront him during a game against Celtic in August 2011. Two men were jailed for two years for an assault he suffered in 2008.

One might think that these incidents would inspire hate in him. Thankfully, they have not.

"I have had to take a lot on," he agrees. "None more so really than the challenge of managing this football club. I'm a football man. All the other things are a spin-off of the football.

"There are things you can deal with and things you can't deal with. The sectarian side of things, you leave that to the authorities.

"Something like Gary Speed was a human tragedy. We all have families and a life away from football, although it does sort of encroach on all of your thinking, 24/7 sometimes.

"In the last couple of years I've learned a lot, I've learned a lot about myself, which is the most important thing; to handle the pressure. You always worry about that going into a new job. Can you take the flak that is coming? I've dealt with it okay. I've handled it pretty well.

"For me, a more proud achievement than anything we've actually achieved on the pitch is having to deal with all the off-the-field stuff and still come out the other side. It's a real challenge in itself."