How Brendan Rodgers inspired Neil Lennon to return to Celtic

The phone call that changed everything

Neil Lennon has revealed how a phone call from Brendan Rodgers convinced him to take over Celtic for a second time in 2019. Lennon, who had previously managed the club from 2010 to 2014, was appointed as interim boss after Rodgers left for Leicester City in February 2019.

Lennon said that Rodgers, who had led Celtic to seven consecutive domestic trophies, was very supportive and encouraging of his decision to return to Parkhead. He also praised Rodgers for his achievements and legacy at Celtic, and said he had learned a lot from him.

“He was brilliant. He phoned me the day after he left and he said ‘look, you’ve got to take it. It’s a great opportunity for you. You know the club, you know what’s expected. You can do it.’ He was very positive and very complimentary,” Lennon told PLZ Soccer.

“He was a hard act to follow, obviously, because he had done so much in his time there. But he left the club in a great position and he left me a great squad of players to work with. He was a great mentor for me and I have a lot of respect for him.”

The challenge of continuing the success

Lennon faced a tough task of maintaining the high standards and expectations that Rodgers had set at Celtic. He had to deal with the pressure of completing a historic treble-treble in his first few months, and then a quadruple-treble in his first full season.

He also had to cope with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disrupted the 2019-20 season and forced games to be played behind closed doors. He said that the pandemic had a negative impact on the players and the staff, and that it was difficult to replicate the atmosphere and the intensity of the Celtic Park crowd.

Brendan Rodgers inspired Neil Lennon


“It was a very strange and surreal time. It was hard to get the players motivated and focused. It was hard to get the same level of performance and consistency. It was hard to get the same connection with the fans, who are so important to Celtic,” he said.

“We missed them terribly. They are the lifeblood of the club. They are the ones who create the noise and the energy and the passion. They are the ones who drive the team on. Without them, it was not the same.”

The mutual respect and admiration

Despite their different personalities and styles, Lennon and Rodgers have a lot of respect and admiration for each other. They have both spoken highly of each other’s achievements and contributions to Celtic, and have maintained a good relationship.

Lennon said that he was not surprised by Rodgers’ success at Leicester, where he has guided the Foxes to the FA Cup final and a top-four spot in the Premier League. He said that Rodgers is one of the best managers in the world, and that he deserves all the accolades he gets.

“He’s done a fantastic job at Leicester. He’s taken them to another level. He’s got them playing attractive and effective football. He’s got them challenging for trophies and for Europe. He’s a top-class manager and a top-class person,” he said.

“He’s one of the best in the business. He’s proven that at every club he’s been at. He’s got a great eye for talent and a great way of developing players. He’s got a great philosophy and a great vision. He’s a credit to himself and to the game.”

Rodgers, meanwhile, has defended Lennon from the criticism he faced during his second spell at Celtic, where he resigned in February 2021 after a disappointing season. He said that Lennon had done an incredible job at Celtic, and that he should be remembered for his achievements and not his failures.

“He’s a legend of the club. He’s won everything there is to win as a player and as a manager. He’s given so much to Celtic, and he deserves nothing but respect and gratitude,” he said.

“He’s had to deal with a lot of adversity and a lot of negativity, which is unfair and unjust. He’s a strong character and a proud man, and he’s always handled himself with dignity and class. He’s a great friend and a great colleague, and I wish him all the best for the future.”

The legacy they left at Celtic

Lennon and Rodgers have both left a lasting legacy at Celtic, where they have written their names in the history books. They have both won multiple trophies, broken records, and entertained the fans with their teams’ performances.

Lennon won five league titles, four Scottish Cups, and one League Cup in his two spells as Celtic manager. He also led the club to the last 16 of the Champions League in 2013, and to the group stages in 2019 and 2020. He is the only person to have won the domestic treble as a player and as a manager at Celtic.

Rodgers won seven trophies in a row in his two and a half years at Celtic, becoming the first manager to do so in Scottish football history. He also achieved an unbeaten domestic season in 2016-17, and a record 69-game unbeaten run in all competitions. He qualified for the Champions League group stages twice, and reached the last 32 of the Europa League twice.

They have both made a huge impact on Celtic, and they have both shown their love and loyalty to the club. They have both earned the respect and admiration of the fans, the players, and the staff. They have both left a legacy that will be hard to match.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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