Check out Lennon’s last post-game interview as a Celtic manager
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has stepped down 18 points behind Rangers in the Scottish Premier League.
Lennon assumed responsibility for a second term in February 2019 when Brendan Rodgers left, leading the club to two titles, two Scottish cups and a league cup.
However, Celtic lagged far behind their rivals in Glasgow to win 10 straight titles and slumped in struggling Ross County on Sunday.
Deputy Manager John Kennedy will temporarily lead the team.
“We have had a difficult season because of so many factors and it is obviously very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to reach the same heights as before,” said Lennon, 49, in one Declaration on the Celtic website.
“I worked as hard as ever to turn things around, but unfortunately we didn’t manage to get the kind of run going that we needed.
“I have always done my best for the club and have been proud to provide cutlery to the Celtic supporters. The club will always be a part of me. I will always be a Celtic supporter myself and I will always want the best for Celtic. “
Celtic said former captain Lennon “served the club with distinction as both a player and a manager”.
“Neil was and always is a true Celtic man and someone I will always treasure,” added General Manager Peter Lawwell.
“Personally, it is a sad day for me to see Neil go. Neil is a man of quality and propriety, someone who will always be part of the Celtic fabric and someone who will always be welcome.”
Major shareholder Dermot Desmond called Lennon a “Celtic legend”.
“He has given so much to the club and with his success in recent years – including winning a triple win – it will be very difficult to replace him,” added Desmond.
How did this stage come about?
Lennon responded to Celtic’s call in early 2019 when Rodgers left for Leicester City mid-season, leading the club to its eighth straight league crown while securing a third consecutive Scottish Cup.
After beating Celtic Hearts in the final, he was offered the job of Lawwell in the Hampden Showers on a permanent basis.
Last season came early in the coronavirus pandemic, with Celtic well ahead of Rangers and crowned champions after they also beat their rivals in the League Cup.
But this season, as the club went for an unprecedented title in the 10th division one after the other, things were spectacularly unraveled.
Celtic were eliminated from the second round of Champions League qualifying at Ferencvaros’ home and won only one of their six group games in the Europa League.
Despite winning nine of their first ten league games, they lost the first two Old Firm derbies of the season and lost points to Aberdeen, Hibernian, St. Johnstone and Livingston.
The incredible run of 35 domestic cup wins came to an end with Ross County, who won 2-0 in the Celtic Park League Cup last year. This led to fan protests and clashes with police outside the stadium.
Lennon continued to thrive in the Scottish Cup in December when Celtic won the 2019-20 trophy on penalties despite taking a 2-0 lead against Hearts. This made the Northern Irishman the first man to win a triple as a player and manager, and sealed a Scots-first four-fold heights.
But the fame was short-lived. Celtic lost at home to St. Mirren in January and, despite the games in hand, remained far behind the Rangers, who have not yet lost a league game this season.
Sunday’s 1-0 loss to County, bottom of the table, sealed Lennon’s fate and the Rangers were on the verge of ending their domestic supremacy.
“A surprise,” it took this long analysis
Chris McLaughlin, sports news correspondent for BBC Scotland
This is something that we have been expecting for a while, and it is a surprise that it has never happened, even for the man himself. The defeat in Ross County seems to have been the last straw. The Celtic Board has been talking about this for the past few days.
Lennon provided the unprecedented four-of-a-kind triplet but has had major problems with the team this season and the Rangers are only seven points away from stopping Celtic and taking 10 straight titles.
The majority of fans have been asking him to step aside for some time.
It will take some time for the dust to clear, but I would imagine Celtic fans will look back fondly on Neil Lennon as a player and manager for the next few seasons.