Neil Lennon: New Celtic boss says returning to club was 'no-brainer' as he rejoices in 'twice in a lifetime' opportunity
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Neil Lennon: New Celtic boss says returning to club was 'no-brainer' as he rejoices in 'twice in a lifetime' opportunity

NEW Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted he has "big shoes" to fill in replacing Brendan Rodgers after snatching at his "twice in a lifetime" chance to return to the Hoops hotseat.

The Northern Irishman, 47, has been appointed Bhoys boss for the remainder of the current campaign following Rodgers' sudden departure to Leicester City.

The former Celtic captain won three league titles and two Scottish Cups in his previous stint as manager from 2010 to 2014, and famously led the club to an incredible 2-1 victory over Barcelona in a Champions League group stage clash at Celtic Park in 2012.

Lenny, as he is affectionately known by the Parkhead faithful, now has the chance to guide Celtic to a domestic "Treble-Treble" – with the club eight points clear of Rangers in the Scottish Premiership, the Scottish League Cup already secured, and a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hibernian still to come on Saturday.

Having only just left Hibs as manager last month, Lennon – who had to cancel a holiday to take charge at Celtic – admitted his return felt like a "dream".

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He told the media on Wednesday morning: "My speedos were packed, the Factor 50 all done and now I am stuck here with you guys! I am sure you are all delighted about that.

"It was a no-brainer, I'm very grateful to be here. The board have put their faith in me to see out the season.

"It's been a whirlwind 24-36 hours. The most important thing is the club – we've lost a manager who will go down as one of the greats and I've got big shoes to fill obviously. I'm looking forward to the challenge".

Rodgers won all seven domestic trophies available to him after taking over in 2016, and the club have now won seven league titles in a row.

Lennon claimed to have mellowed since his previous stint in charge, saying he was "not as volatile" as he was when he first became Celtic manager almost a decade ago.

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"Brendan has certainly raised the bar – in terms of trophies anyway. Everyone is talking about 10. I'd just like to get to eight first and take it from there. That's the most important thing for me and I'm not looking too far ahead," he said.

"I've been on good behaviour this year. I've had no issues with referees or linesmen, to the point that I was voted onto the committee.

"I wanted to take on the world when I first took over. You learn from that, you mellow from that. But I have still got that energy, that will to win, which I want to always bring with me.

"Coming back... you dream of it. You don't believe it. One day I was hoping I would walk back through the doors. It's come sooner than I thought, but it's come".

Lennon, who made 304 appearances for the Bhoys as a player from 2000 to 2007, was coy when asked if he wanted the role beyond the end of this season.

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He added: "It's not up to me. I'm not even thinking about that, the club comes first. It's about the club and the players.

"This is a club decision and come the summer it will be another club decision, what the board think is best for the club going forward.

"These opportunities come round once in a lifetime, and it's come round twice in a lifetime for me."

Lennon's first two games back in charge of Celtic will be a league clash against Hearts tonight, and the Scottish Cup quarter-final against former club Hibernian on Saturday March 2.