Neil Lennon has fully backed his agent’s claim that he is routinely targeted for abuse in Scotland because he is an Irish Catholic who played for Celtic.
And the Hibernian head coach hit out at those who claimed he brought on trouble himself after being hit with a coin at Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby.
When asked about agent Martin Reilly’s comments, the former Celtic captain and manager said: “Everyone tries to skirt round it. That’s the basis of it, has been since 2000.
“The first day I stepped on to the pitch at Windsor Park as a Celtic player I was booed every time I touched the ball, having previously played 36 times and had nothing. But it was my association with Celtic, being high profile – there’s no question in my mind that was the reason behind it.
“You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you are not just abusing the colour of his skin, you are abusing his culture, his heritage, his background. It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people with the sense of entitlement or superiority complex. And all I do is stand up for myself.”
Partick Thistle boss Gary Caldwell – a former Celtic team-mate of Lennon’s – was among those who claimed that Lennon brings trouble on himself.
“People should know better,” Lennon said. “It’s pretty poor all this – I was goading people, I bring it on myself. There’s an effigy outside Tynecastle saying ‘hang Neil Lennon’. That was before the game. Did I bring that on myself?
“This has got to stop. Everyone says I play the victim. I don’t. I had 15 years in England of nothing, so the first day I step into Scotland this sort of stuff began.
“And it’s not because I’m an aggressive character. You all know me. I’m not aggressive at all. I’m competitive, sometimes I cross the line just like any normal manager. So this ‘brings it on himself’, I’m very angry about those comments.”
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