Neil Lennon has enjoyed beating Barcelona as a Celtic player and manager but admits the latter gave him more satisfaction.
The former Parkhead captain was speaking 16 years after helping Martin O’Neill’s men battle to a goalless draw at the Nou Camp in the second-leg of their UEFA Cup last-16 tie, where they went through 1-0 on aggregate thanks to an Alan Thompson goal in the first leg at Parkhead.
Lennon was in his first spell as Celtic boss in November 7, 2012 when the Hoops defeated Barca 2-1 in a Champions League encounter at Parkhead with goals from Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt and he contrasted his experiences in the Celtic View
“As a manager, I think you get a lot more pride and satisfaction out of it,” he said.
“As a player, you’re part of the team but as manager, you select the team obviously, and you try to get them to play the way you want them to play, and you have to pick your way through the game.
“The fitness levels of the players has to be at a certain level as well because of the speed Barcelona play at, and the players in 2012 showed great fortitude because two weeks earlier we had lost in the 93rd minute in the Nou Camp after another great defensive display.
“That was galling for them but the way they responded was magnificent. So you take a lot of pride in that as manager.
“The Barcelona night was really what Celtic is all about and where we wanted to take the club, back on to that stage and make us respectable again in Europe.
“It was our 125-year anniversary, there was the incredible display all around the stadium, and then the players stretched every sinew and gave everything on the night in what was probably one of our most memorable ever results.”
Lennon also remains proud of the night Celtic held out against Barca with a side which included 19-year-old goalkeeper David Marshall, replacing the suspended Rab Douglas, and fellow youth academy graduate John Kennedy, now assistant manager at the Scottish champions.
“That was another great performance,” said Lennon. “The first game at Celtic Park, we played really well and we deserved to win the game, but in the second game at the Nou Camp, it was backs to the wall for a lot of the time.
“David Marshall came in as goalkeeper for that game and really made his name that night.
“He had an unbelievable performance in goals for us that night, and to knock out Barcelona over two games was spectacular.”
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