Neil Lennon still in the dark over Hibs exit as he reflects on 'bizarre' saga

Neil Lennon insists he is still in the dark about his Hibs exit, three years after leaving the Easter Road side.
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The Northern Irishman had succeeded Alan Stubbs as head coach with the club still in the Scottish Championship, but he led them to the title and a fourth-place finish on their return to the top flight.

By the end of January 2019 Lennon and No.2 Garry Parker had been suspended following an exchange between the manager and several members of staff, and a club statement later said that the pair had left their positions ‘by mutual consent’ but denied that either were guilty of any ‘misconduct or wrongdoing’.

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In a question-and-answer feature with FourFourTwo magazine, Lennon revealed he is still none the wiser as to why he was emptied.

Neil Lennon celebrates Jamie Maclaren's equaliser in the 5-5 draw with Rangers in May 2018Neil Lennon celebrates Jamie Maclaren's equaliser in the 5-5 draw with Rangers in May 2018
Neil Lennon celebrates Jamie Maclaren's equaliser in the 5-5 draw with Rangers in May 2018

"To this day, I don’t know. I really don’t have a clue and I haven’t received an explanation of why it all happened. I was told there would be an investigation but certain allegations against me were proved to be unfounded and I was totally exonerated.

"The club put out a statement a few days later, where they said that I’d been cleared of any wrongdoing – but I was still gone. It was all very bizarre.”

Lennon returned to former club Celtic and was succeeded at Hibs some weeks later by Paul Heckingbottom.

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The former Easter Road boss was also asked about his now infamous “aeroplane” celebration against Rangers following the bonkers 5-5 draw between the two teams on the final day of the 2017/18 season.

He explained: “We needed to beat them by 11 goals to finish third so really, we went into that game with nothing to lose. Hibs had enjoyed a great season, so I just told my players before kick-off to give it a real go. And boy, did they do that.

"We were 3-0 up after about 20 minutes and Steven Whittaker saw a header brilliantly saved which would have made it 4-0, but then they scored five goals without reply and a very good day looked like it might end very badly. But what happened?

"We got back in it, then equalised late on – it was quite an amazing game. As you can imagine I was getting a bit of stick from the Rangers fans so decided to have a bit of fun after the whistle myself.

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"It was all a bit naughty, but nothing malicious – just my own way of telling them that we’d all just seen something extraordinary.”

Elsewhere in the feature Lennon recalls being invited to a Rangers youth game when he was a young teenager, his time at Leicester City as a player and Bolton Wanderers as manager, and why Martin O’Neill was such a successful boss.

The 50-year-old insists he is not ready to retire just yet, adding: “The hunger remains, the fire in my belly is still there and I’m in love with the game as much as I’ve ever been.

"I’d love another crack at management – and even if I say so myself, I don’t think my CV’s too bad...”

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