Proud Neil Lennon hails Celtic's quadruple treble final success as his 'best moment'
The shakiness and scares experienced by his Celtic side in their Scottish Cup final shoot-out success over Hearts were brushed aside in the aftermath by Neil Lennon as he reflected on the magnitude of a triumph.
A success that brought up an unprecedented quadruple treble for the club and claimed Lennon the accolade of being the first man in the history of the Scottish game to bank a domestic clean sweep both as a player and manager.
The covid-delayed decider behind closed doors threatened to become another stick with which to beat Lennon in a torturous season of so many such brickbats. They squandered a 2-0 first-half lead, and then a 3-2 advantage in extra-time before prevailing 4-3 in a shoot-out, courtesy of Celtic keeper Conor Hazard atoning for an uncertain display with two crucial saves.
Lennon, as was his right, chose only to accentuate the positives and concentrate on what will be lodged in the record books: an incredible feat that caps an extraordinary period of domination, by a man now out on his own because of it.
“I’m feeling wonderful, I’m very, very proud,” Lennon said. “It’s a monumental achievement for the players, the club and for me personally. I couldn’t be more happy. It’s quite unique and we’ll probably never see the likes of this again in our lifetimes. It’s just a shame there weren’t people here to witness what was a great cup final. We were pushed all the way by a very good side and it shows how difficult it is to win trophies.
“It means everything [to be the first man to win a treble as both manager and player]. To be the first person to achieve this? It feels so, so special. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes, a lot of thinking, a lot of heartbreak at times. I’ve had some great moments, but this is the best. It means so much to me.
“I missed out on the treble the first time I was here as a manager. You’re thinking during the game that you can’t miss this opportunity because it might not come again, but it’s just monumental for me and my family. I’m very emotional. I’m trying to keep them all in at the minute but it’s difficult. At half time I told the team that the next goal would be important, whether it went to Hearts or us. If you get the third you’re cruising, but if you concede it, they get a little bit of encouragement, which they did. You’ve got to give Hearts credit for pushing us all the way but after the 90 minutes we thought they were tiring and the subs came on.
“I think [Leigh] Griffiths is a footballing genius when it comes to goalscoring and I thought: ‘surely this is it now’ [when he scored the third] but we conceded again from a set play, our bugbear this season. Bear in mind the weight of expectation and the burden that the players have been under. I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about a quadruple treble. For all the success we had in the late ‘60s, these guys have won trebles now four seasons in a row. It’s just incredible.”