HeadLine: Determined not to be provoked
The Mirror, 22/08/2002, p3
by SHAUN MILNE
NEIL Lennon is certainly no stranger to death threats.
The 31-year-old Catholic from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was jeered off the
pitch by so-called supporters at Windsor Park, the home of
staunchly-loyalist Linfield, during a friendly with Norway in February
But Lennon’s refusal to respond to the threats drew him huge applause
at a World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic.
A knee injury has kept him out of the Northern Ireland side for several
months, and his selection as skipper triggered the new wave of hate
The campaign has been stoked by his defiance, and his support for the
idea of an all-Ireland soccer team.
He has spoken before of how his childhood was blighted by sectarianism,
but vowed to defy the bully boo-boys in football.
Lennon said Celtic manager Martin O’Neill, whom he left Leicester for
in a £6million transfer, tried to help.
He said: “No-one need think Martin treats me differently because we’re
from the same part of Northern Ireland.
“We talked when I had my problems because he’s a former Northern
Ireland internationalist and it was only natural he would understand
what I was going through.
“My dad has been my biggest influence. He was a constant source of
encouragement to me as a young player.”
He continues: “It wasn’t until I left home at 16 to go to England that
I felt free of restrictions.
“There was such a laid-back attitude to religion that wasn’t available
to me at home.”
Lennon has almost become a symbol of defiance for the Celtic support
because of the way he stood up to religious intolerance in his
He added: “I won’t fall into the trap of being goaded into trouble on
“Anyone who thinks I’m different from the person I portray obviously
doesn’t know me.”
Categories: Daily Mirror articles