Neil Lennon pulls out of match after death threat

 

Celtic player Neil Lennon tonight pulled out of captaining the Northern Ireland international football team in a friendly against Cyprus in Belfast after receiving death threats, the Irish Football Association confirmed tonight.

The catholic player withdraw after consulting family, friends and Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy.

It is understood the threats against the Celtic player were made from someone purporting to come from the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

Lennon, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was booed by sections of the Northern Ireland crowd 18 months ago when he joined Martin O'Neill's championship winning Glasgow Celtic team.

While his team-mates headed to Windsor Park tonight to play the international game against Cyprus without him, the midfielder was making his own preparations to return to Glasgow.

Irish Football Association chiefs angrily denounced those who forced Neil Lennon out of tonight's game.

Association president Mr Jim Boyce said he fully respected the player's decision. But he added: "This is just unbelievable. It is a terrible blight once again on society in Northern Ireland especially when you think of the efforts made by the Irish Football Association to stamp this sort of thing out.

"It is something that the decent people of Northern Ireland totally and utterly condemn.

"I am going to the football match tonight but quite honestly, the heart has been knocked out of it. How do we recover from blows such as this?" he said.