Celtic can win Champions League, says Lennon

Lennon’s team will vie to reach the Scottish Cup final when they play Hearts in the semi-finals on Sunday

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes he can bring the Scottish champions a Champions League title nearly 50 years after the ‘Lisbon Lions’ won the European Cup.

The 40-year-old Northern Irishman – who played for Celtic under Martin O’Neill in the 2003 UEFA Cup final – admitted such a dream would be impossible to achieve immediately but feels it can be done in the future.

“My ambition is to win the Champions League,” Lennon told a number of newspapers on Saturday.

“Here or anywhere, that’s my ambition. I never reached those heights as a player and I may not reach those heights as a manager – but that’s what I’m aiming for.

“You must keep a vision within your head and try to do everything you can to achieve it. Is it possible to win it here? Yes, definitely.

“It might not be possible to do it in a year or two years’ time.

“But if we can consistently get in the Champions League and gain the revenue from that then we can build a team that could challenge.

“It’s an ambition, that’s all. I’m not saying: ‘I think we are going to win the Champions League’, but we have to have ambitions for it.

“I’m not the oracle – I don’t have all the answers. But every now and again the Champions League does throw up a surprise package.”

Lennon, who clinched his first Premier League title last weekend and bids to reach the Scottish Cup final when they play Hearts in the semi-finals on Sunday, said that Jose Mourinho had shown with the Porto side that beat them in the UEFA Cup final what could be done with a relatively unfashionable side.

“Look at 2004 when Porto and Monaco got to the (Champions League) final – you would never have envisaged that,” said Lennon.

“That was a great Porto team that beat us the year before in the UEFA Cup Final.

“I’m not saying this team is anywhere near our 2003 team yet but they have the potential to achieve something and we are hoping Europe is going to be the marker.”

©2011 AFP