Neil Lennon on brink of beating Martin O’Neill’s Celtic record

Current manager to lead club into his 54th European game in charge of the Parkhead side
Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA WireCeltic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire
Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA Wire

Neil Lennon’s place in Celtic history is secure on many counts whether or not he leads the club to a tenth successive title this season.

Whatever happens, he is already guaranteed to surpass the number of European games in which Martin O’Neill took charge of Celtic. This week’s Champions League first qualifying round victory against KR Reykjavik took Lennon level with O’Neill on 53 games. Next week’s clash with Ferencvaros, that famous old name of the European arena, will see him eclipse O’Neill, for whom he played in the 2003 Uefa Cup final v Porto.

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Lennon has been a manager for 61 games in Europe in total, having also led Hibs on eight occasions in Europa League qualifying rounds. Only Jim McLean, Walter Smith and Jock Stein have been in charge of a Scottish club more times in Europe.

I am indebted to David Ross, the estimable football statistician and author, who took to Twitter earlier this week to record these startling numbers.

Lennon still has some ground to cover before reaching Stein’s total of 71 games with Celtic. But no-one should bet against him doing so.

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