Celtic stars, fans rally behind Lennon

Celtic star Kris Commons said the revelation that Neil Lennon had been the target of a parcel bomber motivated the players to defeat Kilmarnock and show their support for the manager on Wednesday.

Updated: April 21, 2011 09:54 IST
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Glasgow: Celtic star Kris Commons said the revelation that Neil Lennon had been the target of a parcel bomber motivated the players to defeat Kilmarnock and show their support for the manager on Wednesday.

Celtic manager Lennon, his lawyer Paul McBride and prominent Celtic supporter Trish Godman, a leading Scottish politician, were all sent explosive devices in the post.

Lennon kept out of the media spotlight as his side romped to a comfortable 4-0 win at Kilmarnock that moved them to within a point of rivals Rangers, who they face in Sunday's Old Firm showdown.

It's a game which is likely to determine the destination of the Scottish Premier League title.

"Events definitely inspired us," said Commons after scoring twice against Kilmarnock.

The Celtic fans rose to a man to show their support for their manager, who wore the number 18 shirt as a player, in the 18th minute as they chanted Lennon's name.

And his assistant Johan Mjallby, who spoke to the media on Lennon's behalf, said the Celtic manager had been touched by the gesture.

"What has happened to him is madness," Mjallby said of the manager's treatment.

"It shouldn't happen to anyone, no matter what they do in life. He probably had a tear in his eye tonight. The supporters showed what he means to them."

Police have warned other well-known fans of Celtic, a predominantly Catholic-supported club, to be vigilant after the discovery of the improvised bombs, two of which had been destined for Lennon.

One device was sent to the Celtic manager just two days after tempers flared at a fiery March 2 Old Firm derby where three Rangers players were sent off and Lennon and Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist had to be separated at the final whistle.

Security was already high surrounding the Celtic manager, who has previously been sent bullets in the post.

He also received death threats while playing for Northern Ireland and who was beaten unconscious in a Glasgow street while on a night out in September 2008.

In a written statement, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell described the most recent events as an "intolerable state of affairs".

He added: "Neil Lennon is a football manager who simply wants to carry out this role to the best of his professional ability. However, in this horrific ongoing campaign, he and other Celtic personnel continue to be the subject of repeated threats and intimidation."

"It is an intolerable state of affairs which must end. Celtic, from our inception, has been a club open to all. We enjoy friendship and respect throughout the world yet, here in Scotland, we are caught up in these vile events. "

"The most recent targeting of Neil Lennon, Paul McBride and Trish Godman - three people who are linked only by an affinity with Celtic - deserves condemnation from all right-minded people. "

"We appeal to our fans to remain calm and to respond only through positive support for Neil and the team."

"On behalf of Neil and the Club, I would like to thank the police for their support and professionalism. We hope their investigations achieve a successful outcome as quickly as possible."

"Celtic supporters should rest assured that Neil will continue to receive the full backing of everyone at the club. They should also understand that we will remain strong in the face of such intimidation."

The Celtic manager also received the backing of UEFA president Michel Platini, who was in London for the Champions League trophy handover ceremony.

"It's a pity in football that we have these problems," Platini said.

"We have to keep politics and religion out of football and sport, that is very important. It's a very bad thing that has happened to the manager of Celtic and the whole of UEFA supports him."

"We have to try to help football and to do something. With my heart I am with him."

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