THE captain will reunite with The King. Neil Lennon, who served Celtic as captain, coach and manager over a period from 2000 to 2014, has signed up for Celtic FC Foundation’s Henrik’s Heroes v Lubo’s Legends charity match on Sunday, May 28 (KO: 2pm).
“Celtic Park is a very special place for me,” admitted the Irishman, who enjoyed extraordinary triumphs at Paradise as a player and a manager.
“As a manager, it was obviously the Barcelona match. The atmosphere was great before the game. The night was just exhilarating. The way the players performed was astonishing, the way the fans backed them was magnificent. It was just one of those great nights and, to be fair, at Celtic we had a few.
“Celtic Park is one of the great, iconic stadiums at any time but under the lights it has an extra charm, an extra edge, a touch of romance.”
And his highlights as a player? “When we beat Manchester United to qualify for the last 16 and the 4-3 Juventus game as well,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Neil Lennon’s respect for his two former team-mates, Messrs Larsson and Moravcik, is undimmed by the passing of time.
“They were just very special,” he said. “Henrik was the best player I ever played with. He is one of the greatest players ever to put the Celtic shirt on.
“He was a brilliant team-mate. You just knew when you had him on your side you had a chance of winning the game, any game. He could score at any time, he could score any type of goal. He was a very, very special player. These guys come along once in a generation, if you are lucky.
“Lubo was mercurial. He made things happen. He was a dynamic player with both feet. Both of them were marvellous footballers but they were ruthless too. In front of goal, they were deadly. The volume of goals that Henrik scored was extraordinary and Lubo had that touch of magic about him.”
And the former Celt, now on the verge of guiding Hibernian back to the Premiership, is delighted that the Lisbon Lions will be saluted at the match 50 years after their triumph of winning the European Cup.
“I was very, very lucky to meet them all,” he said. “They are a special group. Unfortunately we lost Tommy Gemmell this year but they all had their own personality, they all have their own self-confidence that comes with the gravitas of winning the European Cup.
“It is the greatest team the club has ever had. But as former players they are also fantastic ambassadors for the club. It will be great to see them in front of the supporters who love and respect them so much.”
And the Irishman is pleased, too, that Celtic FC Foundation will benefit financially from the match. “There are many people at the club who do fantastic work away from the football side of things,” he said. “The amount of money they have raised over the years has been phenomenal. This is an integral part of the club, it is in the fabric of the club.”
Henrik’s Heroes versus Lubo’s Legends will take place at Celtic Park on Sunday, May 28, 2017, with a 2pm KO.
Tickets are on general sale, on a first come first served basis – maximum of 10 per person – priced at £12 for adults and £6 for concessions*.
Tickets are available to purchase online at www.celticfc.net, by calling 0871 226 1888** or by visiting the Celtic Ticket Office. Rail Seating does not apply to this match.
Premium tickets (£30) and corporate packages (£135) are also available by calling 0871 226 1888** (Option 4) or emailing [email protected]
Net proceeds of the game will be devoted to Celtic FC Foundation, a charity aiming to uphold and promote the founding principles of our football club. The four priorities are to improve health, promote equality, encourage learning and tackle poverty and the Foundation have a strong track record of delivering successful community-based projects.
Some of the funds will be used to extend existing projects such as the award-winning ‘Ability Counts’ – a project aimed at children and young people who live with Down’s Syndrome or Autism. We will also assist with Community Care for Dementia through a series of initiatives. Finally, we have partnered with Mary’s Meals to create The 67 Kitchens campaign which will see Celtic fans support the building of 67 school kitchens for children in the developing world and send emergency food aid to South Sudan and Syria.
* Concessions 65+/Under 16s.
** Calls cost 13p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge. Booking fees apply online and via our sales line.