Neil Lennon visits the Central Coast

Central Coast Mariners today welcomed UK football royalty to the region with Glasgow Celtic manager Neil Lennon visiting Gosford prior to his teams’ international friendly match with the Yellow and Navy at ANZ Stadium this Saturday night.

Central Coast Mariners today welcomed UK football royalty to the region with Glasgow Celtic manager Neil Lennon visiting Gosford prior to his teams- international friendly match with the Yellow and Navy at ANZ Stadium this Saturday night.

Having ventured to Australia a day earlier than the majority of the Celtic touring party, Lennon made the short journey up the F3 freeway to take in the sights of the Central Coast, visit Bluetongue Stadium, and provide ardent Celtic and Mariners fans with the opportunity to meet one of their football heroes.

Arriving at Bluetongue Stadium at 11.00am, Lennon, alongside Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold and midfielder Michael McGlinchey spoke with waiting media before posing for photo opportunities with local dignitaries, fans, and radio competition winners.

Central Coast Mariners Chairman, Peter Turnbull, NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services (and passionate Mariners and Celtic fan), the Honourable Michael Gallacher, Mayor of Wyong Shire Council, Cr Doug Eaton, and Deputy Mayor of Wyong Shire Council and Mariners Director, Cr Bob Graham, were among the VIP's on hand to greet the Northern Ireland great.

Having also represented Leicester City, Crewe Alexandra and Nottingham Forest during a decorated playing career, Lennon is considered one of Celtic's favourite sons having amassed over 200 games for the Scottish giants.

Mariners Chairman, Peter Turnbull, said it was fantastic for the Central Coast to have someone of Lennon's calibre visit the area in order to generate long-term exposure for the region.

"Neil Lennon is immensely popular with the estimated 10 million fans Celtic have scattered in every corner of the globe," Turnbull said. "Having Neil on our doorstep provides an inestimable return for the region in terms of the potential to capitalise on tourism, as well as the general impression of the city on the world map."

Happy to spend time with waiting fans despite his long haul journey from the other side of the world, Lennon said his first impressions of Australia were great, and that he was delighted to see the Central Coast.

"Australia-s is always a country I-ve wanted to visit, so it-s fantastic to be down here with Celtic. I liked what I saw very much on my drive into Gosford - this stadium is terrific.”

A fiercely competitive player in his own right, Lennon indicated his team would not be taking their clash with Central Coast Mariners on Saturday 2 July lightly.

"This is a very important tour for us because it-s not really that long until we begin our season. Obviously we need to get good quality matches under our belt and that-s why we-ve brought almost our strongest squad to Australia.”

While at Bluetongue Stadium, Lennon also took part in a MarinersACTIVE training session with 32 students from Gosford Public School. Led by Mariners Youth Development Coordinator, Damien Brown, the lucky school kids also gained input from Arnold and McGlinchey as they practiced some of the skills needed to one day play for either the Mariners or Celtic.

Following the session, Lennon travelled back to Sydney to oversee a training session with half his squad.

With the remainder of the Celtic squad arriving in Australia tonight, it can be announced that fans will have the opportunity to witness the former European Champions train live at ANZ Stadium on Friday morning, with the session planned to commence at 11am.

With entry via Gate K (located on the western side of the Stadium) from 10.45am, Mariners, Celtic and interested football fans can watch the session free of charge.

Normal ANZ Stadium conditions of entry will apply during the training session, including no alcohol, glass bottles or cans. Further information can be found at www.anzstadium.com.au.