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Romania ‘far better’ for Neil Lennon after Scottish offers – BBC Sport



Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Neil Lennon (right) went up against Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag while at Cypriot side Omonia

Neil Lennon says he turned down approaches from Scottish clubs and his move to Rapid Bucharest is a “far better option”.

The former Celtic and Hibernian manager starts the next chapter of his coaching career in Romania, having last worked with Omonia in Cyprus in 2022.

It began with an approach, followed by a Zoom call with Rapid owner Dan Sucu, whom he then met in Athens.

“I was really impressed by what he had to say,” Lennon, 52, told BBC Scotland.

“I’ve since been to Bucharest, looking at the stadium and the facilities. It’s a club that’s on the up. All of Romanian football is on the up at the moment. The national team are at the Euros.

“The infrastructure is improving all the time, there are good coaches and good competition.

“On paper, you think ‘no’, but in practice when you go and look you think, ‘this has huge potential’.

“I’ve done a lot in Scotland and this is an opportunity to broaden my horizons. I loved my time in Cyprus and I’m hoping I love it in Romania.”

Lennon lasted just eight months with Omonia but packed a lot in, winning the Cypriot Cup and qualifying for the group stage of the Europa League, with matches against Manchester United and Real Sociedad.

“I was offered jobs [in Scotland] last summer and I turned them down because they weren’t right,” he added. “I felt I could work at a better level. This is a far better option.”

‘Brief conversations’ with Aberdeen & Hibs

The Northern Irishman revealed there was contact with Aberdeen and Hibs, although not much more.

“I had a brief conversation with Aberdeen in March or April, but that’s all it was,” he said.

“With Hibs there was a lot of speculation, which is flattering. Again, a brief conversation but nothing materialised.

“It’s a different club from the one I worked at. Different owners. Would I have gone back? I don’t know. I loved my time there but it’s never the same the second time. I learned that at Celtic.”

Rapid finished sixth last season, having been second before the 10-game split and Lennon has been tasked with a “top two or three” mission next term.

“All three Bucharest clubs have great tradition,” he said. “Our stadium holds 30,000 but when we play Steaua it’s at the national stadium, which holds 60,000.

“You can’t go in with a sledgehammer and say, ‘this is how we played at Celtic’, that’s not how it works. You need to understand the culture, the mentality, how they see football.

“You have to put your own stamp on things early, but the days of the iron fist are gone. I don’t think it works anyway. It has a shorter impact these days.”

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