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Hibs boss Neil Lennon struck by object at Tynecastle

Neil Lennon says he “may reconsider” his position as Hibernian boss after being struck with a coin during Wednesday’s goalless Edinburgh derby.

Lennon believes he suffers anti-Catholic “racism” in Scotland and says there was an effigy outside Tynecastle depicting him being hanged.

The Northern Irishman was struck by the missile after celebrating a disallowed Hearts goal near the end of the match.

“I’ve thought about walking away when I was manager of Celtic,” said Lennon.

“Again, with all the furore and the empty vessels talking after Wednesday – people spouting opinions and totally getting the wrong end of things, I may reconsider my position again.

“I had a career in England unblemished by this sort of stuff. I had two years at Bolton [as manager] – again, no abuse, no attacks, no suspensions or anything like that. And as soon as I’ve come back to Scotland it’s started to rear its ugly head again.”

‘You call it sectarianism. I call it racism’

Lennon suggested some observers had blamed him for “bringing it on myself” by “goading people”, which he described as a “pretty poor” argument.

“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism,” Lennon said. “If a black man is abused, you’re not just abusing the colour of his skin – you’re abusing his culture, heritage, his background.

“It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people have a sense of entitlement, or a superiority complex, and all I do is stand up for myself.

“Pretty poor, all this, ‘I was goading people, I brought it on myself’. There was an effigy outside Tynecastle saying, ‘hang Neil Lennon’, that was before the game.

“Did I bring that on myself? You’re all saying no, because you’re right-minded people, you’re decent people. So this has got to stop. Everyone says I play the victim – I don’t.”

He added: “Hanging people is something the Ku Klux Klan did in the 60s to black people so maybe that’s the mentality of people who want to write this stuff.”

‘Plenty people at Rangers suffer from it too’

Lennon joined Celtic from Leicester City in 2000 and says he been “subjected to this for 18 years”.

In 2012, suspect packages were sent to Lennon by two men who were jailed for five years. A year earlier, a Hearts fan was cleared of assaulting the then-Celtic boss after denying his actions were motivated by religious prejudice.

“People will be blinkered and say, ‘it’s his fault, he’s aggressive’. I’m reactive. When I step in the stadium, they’re already up to fever pitch because I’m in there,” Lennon added.

“This is the mentality that needs to change. It’s embarrassing. It makes me very angry. But I’m just one person, so I need more people to come out and call it as it really is. I’m fed up of laughing it off and shoving it aside.

“Every week we hear the songs at stadiums – that’s got to be stomped out. People don’t want to do it, saying we can’t do anything about it – you can, if you really want to.

“I’m not the only one to suffer from sectarian abuse, plenty of people at Rangers suffer from it too and I think it’s disgusting in this day and age. It’s racism. Sometimes it’s worse here than it is back home.

“The sooner we get the people caught, punished severely, embarrassed publicly, then it might deter other people from thinking the same way.”

A Hearts fan is restrained after running at Neil Lennon<!–

In 2011, a Hearts fan ran at Lennon from the Tynecastle stand

‘I get quite a bit of abuse as well’ – Rodgers

Celtic boss – and Lennon’s compatriot – Brendan Rodgers says he “gets quite a bit of abuse” during matches.

“Whatever your religion is and wherever you’re from and whatever your personality as a manager, it doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be subject to that. It’s irrelevant,” Rodgers said.

“But I’m sure authorities and everyone will try and improve on that because it’s not an image of the game we would want up here. I’ve been up here two-and-a-half years and it’s been a brilliant place to work and live.

“But of course it can’t overstep the mark. You come to a football pitch, you’re in to do a professional job, you want the intensity, the passion, but you have to be protected as a player and a manager in that environment.

“I get quite a bit of abuse as well but my focus is very much on the game. That’s not right or wrong – it’s just my way, other managers are different. But ultimately you have to be able to work without the threat of being hit with a coin or a punch.”

News Reporter

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