NEIL Lennon has parted company with Scottish Premiership champions Celtic, his agent has confirmed.
Martin Riley - who represents the Northern Irishman - said that after four years and three title wins, the former club captain had decided he wanted to take on a fresh challenge.
He added: “Four years is a good spell to be manager of a club like Celtic but now Neil wants to look ahead to the next chapter of his career.”
Lennon told celticfc.net: “I have supported Celtic all my life and the club will always be part of me.
“It was an absolute honour to play for this great club, to captain the team and of course to become Celtic manager, a position which I cherished dearly. However, I feel the time is now right to move on to a new challenge.
“Of course, I am very pleased that I will be leaving Celtic as Scottish Champions and with the club in such good health. I wish the club nothing but good fortune going forward.
“I would like to send my sincere thanks and best wishes to Johan Mjallby and Garry Parker who have supported me magnificently, to all the players and staff at the club who I have worked with over so many years and, of course, to our magnificent supporters who have been with me through everything.
“I would also like to thank Dermot, Peter and the club’s board of directors for their support.”
“I also want to thank my family for all they have given me. I could not have been Celtic manager for four years without their wonderful support.
“Serving the Club was always a privilege. I have always given my best and aimed to do all I can to ensure success for Celtic, as a supporter it was all I wanted.
“I will now assist the club in appointing my successor. As ever, we will need our fans’ support and I am sure they will give the club and the new manager the same great backing which they gave to myself.”
Bankier: Neil ‘brought Celtic back to top of Scottish football’
Celtic chairman Ian Bankier added: “Neil has given a huge part of his life to serving the club and we will always be grateful for all he has given us.
Ultimately, Neil brought Celtic back to the top of Scottish football, re-introducing the passion and drive which we needed to succeed and of course keeping us there for the last three years.
“Neil has shown theclub a huge level of commitment and effort over his four years as manager. We thank him sincerely for all he has done and of course we wish Neil and his family the very best for the future.”
Lawwell: Lennon ‘delivered great success to fans’
Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell commented: “I would like to thank Neil for everything he has done for Celtic. When we appointed Neil as manager we did so knowing exactly what the club meant to him and knowing that he would give all he had to the job. He has delivered great success to our supporters domestically and has brought us back to the table in European football.
“He will always be part of the club and we wish Neil and his family nothing but success in the future.
“We now embark on a new and exciting chapter for the club. We are sure our fans will give us their usual fantastic support as we aim to bring them more and more success and continue to make Celtic a club they can be proud of.”
Four years, three titles, two cups and European nights
The 42-year-old replaced Tony Mowbray in 2010 and as well as leading the club to three successive Scottish Premiership successes, he has also helped the Hoops claim two Scottish Cup wins and masterminded their run to the last 16 of last season’s Champions League.
That European campaign also included the famous Parkhead win over Barcelona and former Leicester midfielder Lennon is now expected to continue his career in England.
But despite being linked with the vacant managerial positions at Norwich and West Brom, Riley insists his client has not agreed to any job offer yet.
He added: “He has nothing lined up. He just feels now is the time to move on to the next challenge.”
During his time as manager of the club, he has secured three consecutive titles, two Scottish Cups and led the Hoops into the last 16 of the Champions League.
Lennon’s assistant Johan Mjallby left in April, saying he was seeking ‘different opportunities’.
Lennon originally signed as a player for the Glasgow giants in 2000 during Martin O’Neill’s reign as Parkhead boss.
He won five titles in seven seasons and helped the club reach the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.
He left the club in 2007 to join Nottingham Forest but was later tempted back to Celtic Park a year later when Gordon Strachan offered him a role on the Hoops’ coaching staff.
But after Mowbray’s disastrous reign ended following a 4-0 humiliation away to St Mirren in March 2010, Lennon was given the top job.
He suffered an embarrassing Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Ross County just three games into his stint in charge and was pipped to the Scottish title by Rangers a year later after his first full season in charge.
But at the end of that season, he told the Parkhead crowd: “This is not the end, it’s just the beginning.”
He stayed true to his word as he became only the fourth Celtic boss to lead the club to three titles in a row, joining Willie Maley, Jock Stein and Strachan in an exclusive club, as he made the most of Rangers’ demotion to the bottom tier of the Scottish game.
However, controversy has never strayed far from Lennon during his time in Scotland.
He was given a four-match touchline ban following a spat with then Ibrox assistant manager Ally McCoist back in March 2011.
That same month, a parcel bomb addressed to the Celtic boss was intercepted by Royal Mail staff, while he was attacked in the dug-out at Tynecastle in May of that year after a supporter leapt from the Hearts end and charged straight for him.
Despite those ugly incidents, Riley insisted Lennon had enjoyed his time in Glasgow’s east end.
“It’s been a fantastic journey for Neil since at Celtic,” he said.
“He’s enjoyed his time as a player, coach and now manager of the club and it’s been fantastic for him.
“He has had good backing from the board and believes Celtic is a fantastic club, one of the biggest in the world. He wishes the club and the board all the very best for the future.”