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Glasgow Celtic gaffer Neil Lennon’s honesty is refreshing

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Neil Lennon
The Glasgow Celtic manager Neil Lennon has never been afraid to discuss his battles with depression, and his latest comments this week may just help a few people.

Speaking in the aftermath of the still unexplained suicide of Wales boss Gary Speed, Lennon revealed he has helped a “couple of young players” at Celtic cope with the illness.

“It’s not a sign of laziness, or nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a very difficult situation to deal with,” Lennon told BBC Sport as his side continues its recent return to form.

“People say, ‘Go on holiday,’ ‘Go and have a rest’ but you take the depression with you. The best thing I’ve found over the years to cope with it is to talk about it, get professional help and if there is a tablet you have to take that suits you, then do that.

“Some of the strongest, most intelligent, driven individuals in the history of the world have suffered from depression. It usually hits people who are pretty driven. I’ve been able to deal with it a lot better since I’ve been able to talk about it.

“It’s a fantastic feeling when you come out the other side of it and it’s a place you don’t want to go to again. I would implore anybody out there, footballers or from any other walk of life, if you are struggling or are feeling depressed -- it’s not a question of feeling down.

“This thing stays with you 24/7, the low mood, the anxiety, the stress -- just go and speak to somebody about it, whether it be a loved one or a professional person, and it halves the problem for you.”

Lennon’s honesty deserves to be praised, and his remarks deserve an audience.

Sideline Views

SOCCER: What’s in a name? Not a lot if you’re an Olympic cycling champion called Chris Hoy and there’s a Premier League referee by the name of Chris Foy who enraged Spurs fans the world over on Sunday when he failed to spot a blatant handball in their defeat at Stoke. Poor old Hoy got bombarded with abusive messages on Twitter and had to point out very publicly that he’s not Chris Foy. “Just for the record 1) I don’t need glasses and 2) I do not lead a double life as an English Premier League ref. That’s Chris Foy,” tweeted Hoy. He did add, “On the plus side I’ve learned some new four letter words today.”

SOCCER: The Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has finally given in to a serious bowel disorder and is taking an extended break from professional football in a bid to beat the illness. His club boss Alex Ferguson and his Scotland manager Craig Levein have wished him well in his bid to play again and with good reason -- they could both do with him back. United played the 38-year-old Ryan Giggs and defender Phil Jones in the center of their midfield as they crashed out of the Champions League away to Basel in Switzerland last week when the absent Fletcher’s worth to their cause was plain for all to see.

GAA: All-Ireland SFC winner and Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan has just released a book on his sporting prowess in the green and gold jersey to aid a local charity in Kerry. The book includes a fascinating tale of how Jimmy managed to lose the Sam Maguire cup during a visit to Gaelic Park in the Bronx with the Feale Rangers club from the Kingdom. The FBI got involved before the trophy was re-united with a relieved Deenihan. Needless to say, drink was involved according to eyewitnesses.

GOLF: The affable Irish golfer Gary Murphy has decided enough is enough and is to quit the European Tour and the annual grind to earn his playing rights. This column wishes him well. He was always courteous and giving of his time whenever we met, and he’s bound to be a success in whatever field he turns to now. Don’t rule out a media career for the Kilkenny man.

HURLING: Looking for a good book for a Christmas present? You won’t go wrong with the story of Tipp hurler John Doyle, written by my former Star colleague John Harrington and published by my old mate Liam Hayes’s ISP company. It’s well worth a look.

RUGBY: Ireland have one less opponent to worry about in the forthcoming Six Nations after Jonny Wilkinson confirmed his international retirement after 97 caps for England. It’s a pity for his sake he never got the hundred his greatness probably deserved.


HERO OF THE WEEK

Irish athletics is waiting on a new hero ahead of the Olympics next year, so well done to Wicklow’s Fionnuala Britton on her gold medal success at the European Cross Country championships in Slovenia last weekend. It’s all of 17 years since Ireland last won a race at the event, so the omens must be good for Britton ahead of the distance races in London next August. Great Britton anyone? Sorry.

IDIOT OF THE WEEK

The Dublin GAA secretary John Costello wants to force players transferring to clubs in the capital to declare for the county as well, a suggestion that has already been slammed by the former Galway star Brian Talty. The easy way to protect the best youngsters in Dublin from this influx is to ban incoming transfers altogether. Making inter-county players switch allegiances is a ridiculous suggestion from Costello.

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