Celtic boss Lennon heeded advice of “mystery man” to beat Barcelona

Neil Lennon
Lennon… Imagined?
Celtic manager Neil Lennon has attributed his side’s momentous victory over Barcelona to the sage advice of a “mystery man” whispering into his ear while he delivered his team talks.

Goals in each half from Victor Wanyama and substitute Tony Watt gave the Hoops a 2-0 lead in last night’s Champions League match at Celtic Park, with Lionel Messi notching a late consolation goal for the visitors, who themselves required a last-minute winner to win the reverse fixture two weeks ago.

Having initially deflected the credit to his players, Lennon confessed to Football Burp that the night’s truest hero was the unidentified voice providing him with instructions to be passed on to the players.

He said: “It was the strangest feeling, as if the voice was being carried by the wind, familiar yet somehow distant.

“I was standing in front of my team in the dressing room before kick-off, and I didn’t know what to say to them. How do you beat Barcelona? They were looking at me expectantly, but we all knew we’d have our work cut out just to lose narrowly again.

“Then I heard it, untraceable yet crystal clear. It said: ‘They don’t like it up ’em!’

“Without even thinking, I regurgitated these words at my players, just blurted them out. They gave me some funny looks, alright, but the message had clearly sunken in as they displayed the most resilient rearguard action I’ve ever seen from a home side. It was like…a home guard.”

He continued: “We reconvened in the dressing room at half-time, 1-0 up, and my players looked at me for the guidance to see them through. Then again I heard this voice, this supernatural voice, saying simply: ‘Don’t panic!’

“I again repeated the words aloud, this time more out of my own confusion than as a reflex passing on of instructions, but that was all my players needed – they nodded, then slapped each other’s backs and loudly encouraged each other with mantra-like shouts of ‘Don’t panic!’ as they went back out for the second half.

“It was the weirdest thing.”