An influential and constant presence in Martin O’Neill’s successful Leicester City sides between 1996 and 2000, the Northern Ireland captain was a combative midfield player who was described by O’Neill as ‘a colossus who bestrode Filbert Street’.
Born in Lurgan, he played for Manchester City in the 1989 Youth Cup Final alongside future Leicester City players Ashley Ward and Gerry Taggart before making his first team debut as a 17-year-old.
In August 1990 he signed for third-tier Crewe Alexandra. Relegated in his first season and missing his second season at Gresty Road with a serious back injury, he then became a key player in the successful Crewe side which reached a play-off final, an automatic promotion and a play-off semi-final between 1993 and 1995.
With the League Cup trophy after beating Middlesbrough in the 1997 final replay.
In February 1996, newly appointed manager O’Neill made Lennon his first signing as Leicester City’s manager for a fee of £750,000 at a time when Leicester were losing momentum in their push for promotion to the Premier League.
Together with other newly signed players Steve Claridge, Muzzy Izzet and Julian Watts, Neil was a big factor in the Club winning six and drawing one of their last eight games, qualifying for the play-offs and defeating Crystal Palace in the Play-off Final at Wembley when he was named Man of the Match.
Following this promotion, his midfield partnership with Izzet was a major factor in Leicester achieving four successive Premier League top 10 finishes, three League Cup finals, (including two wins) and two campaigns in the UEFA Cup.
In his five years playing for Leicester City, he hardly missed a game, making 208 appearances, with only one as a substitute. He played the last few games of 1996/97 with a broken toe.
Lennon celebrates with Steve Guppy and goalscorer Matt Elliott during the League Cup Semi-Final second leg against Aston Villa at Filbert Street in February 2000.
While at Filbert Street, Neil won 30 of his 40 international caps, becoming Northern Ireland’s captain in October 1999.
After O’Neill left to become manager of Celtic in June 2000, Lennon followed him to Parkhead six months later. In his six-and-a-half years as a Celtic player he won five Scottish Premier League titles, four Scottish Cups, two Scottish League Cups and was also a UEFA Cup finalist.
After brief spells playing for Nottingham Forest and Wycombe Wanderers he had two spells as Celtic’s manager (2010-14 and 2019-21) leading the Bhoys to five league titles, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup.
As Hibernian manager, his side won the Scottish Championship title in 2017 and in 2022 he was Omonia’s manager when they lifted the Cypriot Cup.
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