'Justification for Neil'

NEIL Lennon was officially unveiled as the Celtic manager yesterday.

The Lurgan man had made himself the firm favourite to take the job after a successful stint as caretaker where he won eight games and lost just once - although that game put the Hoops out of the Scottish cup.

The 38-year-old is a former team captain and has won league and cup medals with the Glasgow side since joining in 2000.

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His father Gerald was delighted: "Neil has worked hard and deserves it. He never aspired to play for or manage Celtic, it's just in his nature to do his best.

"This is a culmination of a great deal of success and hard work from his days at Man City, Crewe, Leicester and then Celtic. It's justification for Neil."

Lennon replaced Tony Mowbray in March and his appointment was thought to have been rubber stamped after a resounding seal of approval from former Parkhead boss Martin O'Neill.

Despite leading the team to win all their remaining league fixtures the league crown went to fierce rivals Rangers for the second year in a row.

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Former team-mates Johan Mjallby, Alan Thompson and Garry Parker will form his backroom team.

"Neil is an out-and-out winner," continued his father, "he has selected a team around him that are in a similar mould, they all know what they are doing.

"Tony Mowbray was unlucky and Neil was in the right place at the right time.

"It will not be in his thoughts to win the title - he'll be expecting it."

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He went on: "Neil won 11 trophies in his six-and-a-half-years playing for Celtic - although he will always say it should have been more.

"And when he was at Leicester under Martin O'Neill he went to Wembley four times and won three.

"He is well used to success."

Gerald added: "From a young age he has always done well, he is an intelligent man.

"At St Michael's he was successful in the classroom and on the playing fields.

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"He is always talking about football, but he has three sisters and they make sure his feet are always on the ground.

"They were always very competitive playing games together - I remember Neil used to make-up games, just so he could win."

Gerald remained tight lipped on Neil's transfer targets, but he said: "Me and my wife, Ursula are both very proud of him."