Neil Lennon has appealed to fans to concentrate on his Celtic team after he was assaulted on the pitch during Wednesday night’s win over Hearts.
Lennon was attacked by a fan after Gary Hooper had the second goal of the 3-0 win in Edinburgh that keeps Celtic’s slim title hopes alive.
The man – believed to be a Hearts fan – ran onto the sideline at the Tynecastle ground and was about to kick Lennon when he slipped and fell but he did make contact with the stunned Irishman.
The 26-year-old man was immediately arrested and taken away by Edinburgh police and will appear in court on Thursday.
Politicians, police and football chiefs have all condemned the attack, the latest incident involving Ulster man Lennon this season.
Live bullets and two parcel bombs addressed to the former Northern Ireland international have been intercepted in recent months while Lennon was also involved in ugly incidents in two Old Firm derby games against title favorites Rangers.
Lennon stayed away from the post match press conference after Wednesday’s game but did address Celtic fans on his Twitter page later that night when he appealed to them to give his players their full support ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season at home to Motherwell.
“Don’t let what happened to me tonight take the shine off a wonderful team performance... I don’t walk alone,” wrote Lennon.
Police chiefs in Scotland are adamant there was little they could do to stop the assailant jumping onto the playing area from the Tynecastle stands and attacking Lennon.
Les Gray, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, told BBC Radio Five Live: “There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent an incident like that.
“This is an individual who has taken it upon himself to attack and it’s absolutely horrendous.
“But unfortunately from a policing point of view, unless you’ve got a ring of steel around that park and block the view for quite a number of fans, there isn’t a lot you can do to prevent it.
“We always knew it was going to be a feisty game - that’s football. There is nothing that justifies someone going onto a pitch and physically attacking Neil Lennon or anybody else - that’s criminal behavior, it is nothing to do with football.
“Whatever else you say about Neil Lennon’s behavior, that’s football, this is a criminal act. You can’t compare the two.”
Celtic assistant manager Johan Mjallby and Hearts boss Jim Jefferies sympathized with Lennon and both men expressed their belief that the Ulsterman could walk away from his job and the sport.
Mjallby said: “He is a strong character, he has coped with much. The backroom staff are desperate for him to continue but no-one could blame him if he decided not to.
“I would never blame him whatever he does. I’m shocked and Neil must be even more afraid. What if the supporter had something in his hand?
“But it is too early to say how Neil will react. I am shocked myself, I see it on television all over the world but I haven’t seen it myself.
“We all have to look into this, a manager should be secure inside a football ground.”
Hearts manager Jefferies also believes Lennon might get fed up with the game if the problems continue. He said: “For what he has had to contend with, I wouldn’t blame him for walking away.”