Laid-back Steven Lennon finds happiness in Iceland as he targets Champions League

Steven Lennon is congratulated by Jordan McMillan after scorinig against Celtic in a reserve match in 2007
Steven Lennon is congratulated by Jordan McMillan after scoring against Celtic in a reserve match in 2007

His travels have taken him from Scotland to England, Ireland, Wales and Norway, but Steven Lennon has found the "perfect" home just south of Reykjavik in Iceland.

Lennon came through the ranks at Rangers and made his debut, aged 18, in December 2006 when he replaced Nacho Novo near the end of an away defeat by Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

He made two further appearances in light blue that season before being loaned to Partick Thistle and then Lincoln City in the years that followed.

It was plain his days at Rangers, the club he had joined as a 10-year-old, were nearing an end.

More than a decade later and Lennon, now 29, has found personal and professional happiness playing for FH Hafnarfjördur.

With his Icelandic girlfriend and their 19-month-old son, he is enjoying the "relaxed, Scandinavian life too much" to contemplate a return to Scotland.

Steven Lennon lines up for Scotland Under-21s in September 2008
September 2008: Scotland Under-21s line up ahead of their 3-1 win over Slovenia in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier. Back row (L-R) Lee Wallace, Garry Kenneth, Scott Cuthbert, Jamie MacDonald, Steven Fletcher and Kevin McDonald. Front row (L-R) Charlie Mulgrew, Scott Arfield, Andrew Considine, Steven Lennon and Ross McCormack

Further, he's targeting playing in the Champions League, though admits a more realistic prospect is the group stages of the Europa League.

Lennon scored a crucial penalty for the Icelandic title holders against Vikingur in the Faroe Islands' capital Torshavn on Tuesday. Their 3-1 aggregate win sets up a Champions League third qualifying round tie against Maribor of Slovenia.

He told BBC Scotland: "I've found my home here. I've got a son and girlfriend. It's perfect. The culture here is very relaxed.

"The football is completely different. Back home in the Scottish league it's more direct.

"Over here there are a lot of young players in the league so they try to be as technical as possible and play as much football as possible.

"The big boys like Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen would be a step above us but we'd be competing with the middle clubs in the SPL."

The attacking midfielder admits he struggled to find his feet after leaving Ibrox, but following spells with Dundalk, Newport County, Fram in Iceland and Norway's Sandnes Ulf, Lennon is at his "ideal" club.

"I'm not the biggest in height and I'm a technical player," said Lennon.

Steven Lennon in action for Scotland Under-21s
Lennon made six appearances for Scotland Under-21s but has yet to win a full cap for his country

"In Scotland, if you don't get a chance at a big club like Rangers or Celtic, when you are always on the ball, then it's difficult for a player who has been brought up that way to go down to the lower leagues and find themselves.

"I was a little bit lost in the UK after being at Rangers and couldn't find my level.

"Scandinavia has been like a second home to me. I've been to Iceland and Norway and back to Iceland. I think the football suits me here.

"If you come to Iceland you have to be open-minded, especially if you're from cities like Glasgow or Edinburgh; it's going to be less populated.

"But if you want to progress in football rather than go to a League One or Two club in England I think it's ideal.

"If you do well, there are moves to Swedish leagues, Norway, Belgium and Holland."

Lennon acknowledges that there has been disquiet in Iceland about there being too many foreign players in the league who are not improving the standard.

Robbie Crawford
Like Steven Lennon, Robbie Crawford broke into the Rangers first team at a young age but did not hold down a regular place

However, he hopes former Rangers midfielder Robbie Crawford is one arrival who can make a difference.

"He's a hard-working player and a really good lad," said Lennon of 24-year-old Crawford.

"He's full of enthusiasm about coming to a new country. He had a trial at a club that was relegated and I knew we were looking for some players."

Lennon has been instructing him on the Icelandic culture, which differs from his days as a young player at Rangers.

"We would play our reserve game on a Tuesday and half the team would then go to the casino to play poker," he said. "Then if I was in the first team squad I would do the same on a Saturday.

"Hopefully things are changing. The academies are better at educating the younger players now.

"In Iceland we play on Sundays mostly so we don't have the time to go out on a Friday or Saturday.

"A lot of the younger boys take education more seriously than football until they get to a certain age so they are not interested in going out drinking too much."

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