Nothing like Old Firm derby intensity, says Neil Lennon

Jason Holt and Scott Brown
Rangers beat Celtic on penalties in last season's Scottish Cup semi-final

Former Celtic captain and manager Neil Lennon is excited by this season's Old Firm derbies, saying of the rivalry: "There's just nothing like it."

Rangers won promotion to the top flight for this season and will face defending champions Celtic on 10 September.

"When you see the intensity and the passion in the crowd and the expectation, it's addictive," Lennon told BBC Scotland.

"In my career, when I've left this environment, it's never the same."

Barton v Brown - 'It'll be interesting'

Joey Barton
Former Manchester City player Barton joined Rangers during the close season

Lennon feels the midfield joust between Rangers' Joey Barton and Celtic's Scott Brown adds particular intrigue.

"It'll be interesting," Lennon said on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"He [Brown] has certainly got the athleticism, the power, pace. He'll certainly dominate Joey in that department. I think Joey's technically, probably slightly better.

"I didn't think he [Brown] had a great season last year but I think that was down to injury. I watched him last Sunday against Hearts. I thought he was back to his best."

Rivals on the park, friends off it

Barry Ferguson and Neil Lennon
Barry Ferguson and Lennon led their respective sides in many derbies

Looking back on his own experience of Glasgow derbies, Lennon spoke of his on-field rivalry with Rangers captain Barry Ferguson - a friend off the pitch.

"When you have a nemesis, you have to put your marker down, in Old Firm games especially," Lennon explained. "You put your marker down early.

"Barry would've gone for me and I would've gone for Barry because we were seen as the two leaders in the team. It'll be the same with Barton and Brown, maybe.

"I had total respect for Barry. I thought he was a fantastic player - technically superb, could see a pass.

"Socially, it was very difficult but every now and again, we'd meet up quietly out of the road. We'd chew the fat but we never ever fell out or anything like that.

"We had words on the pitch and then it was forgotten about afterwards. There was a real high level of respect there."

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