Neil Lennon's Hibs reign: Aeroplane celebrations, tackling racism & 'a square go'

Aeroplane celebrations, calling out racism and a "square go" have all featured during Neil Lennon's engrossing two-and-a-half reign as Hibernian head coach.

The Northern Irishman officially left his post on Wednesday by mutual consent after being suspended by the club last week following an exchange with several employees.

Lennon's time at Easter Road has yielded a league title, a record points haul and a slew of controversial moments. BBC Scotland charts his tenure...

Lennon becomes Hibs head coach

8 June, 2016

Manager Alan Stubbs left Easter Road on a wave of euphoria, departing for an ill-fated spell at Rotherham United having led Hibs to the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years.

However, the club were preparing for a third consecutive season in the Scottish Championship and Lennon was charged with winning the title.

Chief executive Leeann Dempster described him as the "outstanding candidate" for the role. "He has managed at a very high level and we were attracted by his ability to get the most out of players and his driven, winning mentality," she said.

Hibs tweet

'That is the enigma this team is'

22 February, 2017

Lennon branded his players "an absolute disgrace" after the Championship leaders could only draw with struggling Raith Rovers in February 2017.

A few days later, Hibs battered their Edinburgh rivals Hearts 3-1 at Easter Road to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

"That is the enigma this team is sometimes: they go from down there to through the roof. We just need to find more consistency," Lennon said.

'He asked me for a square go'

29 March, 2017

Neil Lennon and Jim Duffy

A reckless challenge from Morton's Kudus Oyenuga on Jordon Forster sparked an almighty brawl during a Championship stalemate at Easter Road.

Lennon was at the centre of a fracas involving players and staff from both sides, claiming Morton boss Jim Duffy had asked him for "a square go".

"I have the Morton staff in my technical area having a go at me and then I have the Morton players, acting the big hard men, having a go at me," he added.

'Heady days' & the title

15 April, 2017

Hibs sealed their return to the top flight with a 3-0 victory over Queen of the South in mid-April in front of a packed Easter Road.

"The players can be very proud of what they have achieved, the cup win and now promotion - it's heady days," Lennon said.

"We were favourites going into the league and, to be fair, they have lived up to the billing."

Gestures at Ibrox

12 August, 2017

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Neil Lennon celebrates Hibs equaliser at Ibrox.

A former Celtic captain and manager, Lennon's return to Ibrox was always likely to be fiery.

Hibs won a hot-tempered contest 3-2 against 10-man Rangers, with Lennon's celebratory gestures enraging some members of the home support.

"I am celebrating a goal. What way are you supposed to celebrate a goal?" the Hibs boss said.

Frightening the 'invincibles'

30 September, 2017

If Lennon's return to Ibrox was raucous, his first visit to Celtic Park in the away dugout was altogether more welcoming.

The champions had yet to lose a domestic game under Brendan Rodgers - a run of 57 matches - but Hibs came within a whisker of halting that streak as John McGinn's second goal put them 2-1 up with 13 minutes remaining.

Callum McGregor levelled but Lennon was full of praise for his players. "It's very difficult to put into words how proud I am at that performance," he said.

'It's up there with the Barcelona result'

3 February, 2018

Jamie Maclaren

Hibs conquered Rangers at Ibrox for the second time in February, Jamie Maclaren's late penalty sealing a 2-1 win for the injury-ravaged visitors.

Lennon compared the victory with the incredible Champions League win his Celtic side recorded over Barcelona in 2012.

"It's up there with the Barcelona result," he said. "Just under the circumstances, the injuries that we had."

'We should be able to send referees off'

24 February, 2018

A few weeks later, Lennon watched his team surrender a two-goal lead at Rugby Park thanks in part to a controversial penalty.

The Hibs boss erupted at referee Kevin Clancy, sarcastically applauding in the official's face, and was sent to the stand and given a touchline ban.

In his post-match interview, he said: "We should be able to send referees off for their decisions, their performances, instead of sending managers off."

'I'll reconsider my position'

9 May, 2018

Hibs began the post-split fixtures in excellent form, and were well in the hunt to finish second after beating Celtic and Kilmarnock, and drawing with Aberdeen.

The concession of two soft goals in a derby loss to Hearts effectively killed their push for the runners-up spot, meaning Hibs would fall short of Lennon's aspirations.

"We look like we are going to finish fourth, which is unacceptable for me. I will reconsider my position now in the summer," he said.

"I've got things to think about myself, my own personal aims and ambitions. But I can't watch that in a derby. It's not good enough."

'The aeroplane' takes flight

13 May, 2018

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Neil Lennon hasn't held back when celebrating this season.

A riveting season ended in fitting fashion. Hibs and Rangers contested an incredible 5-5 draw at Easter Road in which the hosts led 3-0 then trailed 5-3.

Maclaren's late equaliser sparked wild celebrations in the stands and on the touchline, with Lennon running on to the field, arms outstretched, mimicking an aeroplane.

The Hibs boss said he'd "absolutely" be staying at the club but he wasn't happy with finishing fourth, even if Hibs had amassed a club-record top-flight points tally of 67.

"I have to look at myself and say, 'did I do enough?' We did all right. Fourth is acceptable for some people - not for me," Lennon said.

'People will say I was winding the crowd up; I wasn't'

31 October, 2018

Two months into his third season as Hibs boss, Lennon was struck by a coin thrown from the Tynecastle stand at the end of a foul-tempered goalless derby.

Hibs striker Florian Kamberi had been sent off, Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal was "punched" by a Hibs fan and two officials were hit by objects from the crowd.

Moments after celebrating Hearts having an injury-time winner disallowed, Lennon was felled by the coin, which struck him "on the jaw".

"People will say I was winding the crowd up; I wasn't. I was just giving a bit back for the abuse I was taking for 90 minutes," he said.

'I call it racism'

2 November, 2018

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'I call it racism' - Hibernian boss Neil Lennon on abuse

Addressing the media later that week, Lennon described the abuse he has received throughout his time in Scotland as anti-Catholic "racism".

"You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism," the Hibs boss said. "If a black man is abused, you're not just abusing the colour of his skin - you're abusing his culture, heritage, his background.

"It's the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people have a sense of entitlement, or a superiority complex, and all I do is stand up for myself."

'They have to look at themselves'

22 December, 2018

Hibs endured an inconsistent first half of the season, twice drawing with Rangers and beating Celtic at home, but slipping up against struggling Dundee and St Mirren.

After being held to a draw by Livingston in late December, Lennon publicly criticised his strikers, particularly Kamberi, saying they were "not performing, not working hard enough, and not brave enough".

He reiterated those sentiments a week later, when Hibs lost the second derby of the season.

Lennon & Parker suspended

26 January, 2019

Hibs lost their first league game of 2019 to Motherwell, leaving them without a Premiership victory in five matches and sitting eighth in the table.

Having signed midfielders Ryan Gauld and Stephane Omeonga on loan, Lennon said the addition of at least two more players in January was "essential".

Later that day, the Hibs boss and assistant Garry Parker had been suspended, following an exchange with several club employees.

Lennon & Parker leave by mutual consent

30 January, 2019

Statement

In a statement released on Wednesday at 16:33 GMT, Hibs confirmed Lennon and assistant Parker had left but had "not been dismissed" and had "not resigned".

It went on to thank them for their efforts and stated that neither had "been guilty of any misconduct or wrongdoing" and said "no disciplinary process has been commenced".

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