22.05.2014 18:50 h

Football: Lennon quits but vows to help find next Celtic boss

Stephen Ireland (r.) spielte seit Frühjahr 2011 für Aston Villa
Stephen Ireland (r.) spielte seit Frühjahr 2011 für Aston Villa

Neil Lennon quit as Celtic manager on Thursday but insisted he would help the Scottish champions find his replacement.

Lennon steps down having led the Glasgow club to three Scottish Premiership titles during his four-year spell in charge.

Former Celtic striker Henrik Larsson - currently in charge of Swedish outfit Falkenbergs - has been installed as the bookmakers' favourite to replace him, but there is also backing for fellow Parkhead old boys Malky Mackay, sacked by Cardiff earlier this season, and Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert.

Lennon will now help Bhoys chief executive Peter Lawwell pick the man to succeed him and he said: "Serving the club was always a privilege. I have always given my best and aimed to do all I can to ensure success for Celtic, as a supporter it was all I wanted.

"I will now assist the club in appointing my successor. As ever, we will need our fans' support and I am sure they will give the club and the new manager the same great backing which they gave to myself."

Lennon, a 42-year-old former Northern Ireland international, was Celtic captain under Gordan Strachan before taking over from Tony Mowbray to start his successful spell as Hoops boss in March 2010.

"I have parted company with Celtic. I can't thank Peter Lawwell and the board enough for their backing and support," Lennon told BBC Scotland.

"The club are in a very strong position and I wish the fans and the club all the very best for the future."

As well as success in the league, Lennon has also helped Celtic claim two Scottish Cup wins and masterminded their run to the last 16 of last season's Champions League.

That European campaign also included the famous Parkhead win over Barcelona and former Leicester midfielder Lennon is now expected to continue his career in England.

But despite being linked with the vacant managerial positions at Norwich, recently relegated to the Championship, and Premier League strugglers West Bromwich Albion, his agent Martin Reilly insists his client has not agreed to any job offer yet.

"He has nothing lined up. He just feels now is the time to move on to the next challenge," Reilly added.

Lennon was originally signed by then Parkhead boss Martin O'Neill as a player in 2000, going on to win five titles in seven seasons and helping the club reach the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

He left in 2007 to join Nottingham Forest but was tempted back a year later when Strachan offered him a role on his coaching staff.

He was offered the top job after Mowbray's disastrous reign ended following a 4-0 humiliation away to St Mirren.

He suffered an embarrassing Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Ross County just three games into his stint in charge and was pipped to the Scottish title by Rangers a year later after his first full season in charge.

But at the end of that season, he told the Parkhead crowd: "This is not the end, it's just the beginning."

He stayed true to his word as he became only the fourth Celtic boss to lead the club to three titles in a row, joining Willie Maley, Jock Stein and Strachan in an exclusive club, as he made the most of Rangers' demotion to the bottom tier of the Scottish game.

However, controversy has never strayed far from Lennon during his time in Scotland.

He was given a four-match touchline ban following a spat with then Ibrox assistant manager Ally McCoist back in March 2011.

That same month, a parcel bomb addressed to the Celtic boss was intercepted by Royal Mail staff, while he was attacked in the dug-out at Tynecastle in May of that year after a supporter leapt from the Hearts end and charged straight for him.