John Kennedy: ‘Hibs link flattering but Celtic is my dream job’

Parkhead assistant manager wants to be his own man but is not in a huge rush

John Kennedy, left, was a leading candidate to replace Paul Heckingbottom at Hibs last year but was content to remain as Neil Lennon's assistant at Celtic. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS Group
John Kennedy, left, was a leading candidate to replace Paul Heckingbottom at Hibs last year but was content to remain as Neil Lennon's assistant at Celtic. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS Group

John Kennedy has admitted he was flattered to be in contention to take charge of Hibs last season but insists he is in no hurry to advance to the front line of management.

The Celtic assistant manager was a leading candidate to replace Paul Heckingbottom at Easter Road last November but was content to remain with the Scottish champions.

Kennedy has been a member of the Celtic backroom staff since his playing career at the club was cut short by injury, initially as a scout and then development coach before joining the first team set-up under Ronny Deila in 2014.

He has played an increasingly influential role in Celtic’s success since then under both Brendan Rodgers and current manager Neil Lennon, who appointed him as his number two when he returned to the club last year.

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Kennedy says he has longer term ambitions to become a manager in his own right, describing the role at Celtic as his “dream job”, but is happy to stay in a supporting role for now.

“It was flattering (to be linked with the Hibs job),” said the 36-year-old. “It’s something I’ve never shied away from and at one point I do want to be my own man.

“But I’ve also never been in a huge rush to do that. That’s basically because I’ve looked at my position at Celtic and always felt challenged.

“I’ve made steady progress in terms of where I’ve come from - recruitment, academy and now first team. There’s always been a progression for me and that’s been important. I’ve worked with very good managers.

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“If that stalls and things become a bit stale, then I would have to review it. But I’ve never come to that point and I’m very happy in my current role.

“But at some point, it’s certainly a challenge I want to take on. I’m approaching 37 and have had a good number of years experience. But I wouldn’t say I’m old. What I’ve been part of at Celtic will definitely stand me in good stead.

“It’s not part of the plan (to become Celtic manager) but I know where I want to go. You only become Celtic manager when you’ve earned that right. Whether that comes in the future or not, time will tell.

“It would be a dream job, yes. Particularly when I think of where I started out as a young boy.

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“Celtic was the team I supported and from the minute I first became involved at the club as a young boy, I wanted to reach the top. So, of course, it would be the dream job.

“But it’s not something I’m in a rush to do. It’s not something I’d ever take for granted. You’ve got to earn the right.

“Talk’s easy, it’s not a problem anyone saying they want to be this and that. Going out and proving yourself is a different story altogether. Anything I’ve ever achieved, I’ve always felt I’ve had to work for it. So that won’t change for me.”

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Joy Yates

Editorial Director

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