Born in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, Neil Lennon was a midfielder,
plucked from Manchester City's reserve side, who became one
of the best playmakers in Crewe Alexandra Football Club's
history. He went on to become an accomplished International
footballer, a decorated member of Scottish side Celtic's
team, and a role model to many for the way he handled himself
in the face of outrageous sectarian bigotry throughout his
Like his future Crewe team-mate Ashley Ward, Lennon, a youth
team product at Maine Road, couldn't find his way into the
team under Howard Kendall at Manchester City. So when Dario
Gradi offered to take him to Gresty Road to play some first
team football in August 1990, the young Irishman jumped at
Lennon signed on a free transfer, having made just one appearance
for City, and the intelligent player seemed to blossom under
Dario producing a string of consistent performances over
the years for the Alex after making his debut on 18 September
1990 in a defeat at Reading.
Ironically his first season with the Railwaymen ended in
relegation, but the other six seasons he spent at the Alex
were some of the most exciting in the clubs history, with
Lennon at the spearhead, pulling the midfield strings during
this successful period.
1991/92 and 1992/93 both saw Neil helping the Alex reach
the Division 4 (then to become Division 3) Play Offs, only
to lose out to Scunthorpe and York City respectively.
The following 1993/94 season saw Lennon again proving to
be an integral part of the Alex side which clinched automatic
promotion with a third placed finish in Division Three, and
the season after he helped the reds finish third again, this
time in Division Two, only to lose in the play-offs once
In June 1994 Lennon was also recognised for the first time
at International level when Billy Bingham handed him his
Northern Ireland debut, as a substitute, in a friendly defeat
to Mexico in Miami. It was an immensly proud moment for both
Lennon and Crewe Alexandra, although he had to wait nearly
a year to be selected again and win his first full cap, when
he started the game in a 2-1 friendly defeat by Chile.
Further European Championship Qualifying matches against
Portugal, Austria and Liechtenstein later that season soon
had the Catholic born player as a regular in the Northern
Ireland squad, and only served to raise his profile. By now
Lennon's credentials were there for all to see, and the Premiership
scouts had been lurking at Gresty Road for some considerable
time to watch the talented player in action.
Halfway through the 1995/96 season, and with Lennon again
in fine form, the Alex couldn't hold onto him anymore and,
after 6 years, 187 appearances and 18 goals for the Railwaymen,
he left Gresty Road to sign for Martin O'Neill's Leicester
The Foxes rated him so highly that they paid a club record £750,000
to take him to Filbert Street and it proved to be money well
spent as he became a key player in O'Neill's side over the
next four years.
In the remainder of the 1995/96 season he helped Leicester
to promotion to the Premier League, as he finally had some
luck in a play-off, beating Crystal Palace in the final.
The following season he missed just a handful of games as
the Foxes established themselves in the top flight and also
collected his first piece of silverware thanks to a 1-0 win
over Middlesbrough in the replayed final of the League Cup.
The following year he was part of the Leicester side which
played against Athletico Madrid in the Uefa Cup and alongside
the likes of Muzzy Izzett and former Crewe team-mate Robbie
Savage, Lennon formed a formidable midfield in O'Neill's
impressive side which ended up with four top ten finishes
in the Premier League.
League Cup triumph followed again in February 2000 at Wembley
Stadium, this time as the Foxes defeated Tranmere Rovers
2-1 in the final, but in December of that year, Lennon was
set for a dream transfer.
Return to residential page