It was a pre-match media conference with a difference.  

There was no talk of potential transfer targets. No injury updates in relation to his squad. No views on the opposition in their next fixture.  

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon had his mind on other issues.

A few days prior he had been struck by a coin, thrown by a Hearts supporter, in a feisty Edinburgh derby and he wanted to get a few things off his chest.

“I had 15 years in England of nothing,” he told the assembled ranks of the Scottish media. “I had a career in England until I was 29. I then had two years as Bolton manager and had none of this. I didn’t even have a suspension as a manager in England. There is a common denominator here. The first day I stepped into Scotland this sort of stuff has begun.”

During his time north of the Border the Northern Irishman has been physically attacked (inside and outside of football grounds), sent bullets and parcel bombs. Furthermore he is subjected to vicious verbal and online abuse on a regular basis.

The 47-year-old believes he is being targeted because of his Irish Catholic background.

He continued: “It’s racism. You call it sectarianism here [Scotland] but I call it racism.  If a black person is abused you’re abusing the colour of their skin, their culture and heritage and I get that more or less every week.

“It’s the exact same with me when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar a tarrier. You have to sit on your hands sometimes and take it. But what this tells me about these people is they have an outdated sense of entitlement, a superiority complex.  And it’s all because I have the gall to stand up for myself.”

The Hibs manager was also forthright on the ‘Hang Neil Lennon’ message that had been spray-pained on a wall close to Tynecastle.

He added: “The graffiti to me reeks of sectarianism.  Hanging people is something the Ku Klux Klan did to black people in the 60s and it might tell you a bit about the mentality of the people who write this stuff.”

Emile Heskey played alongside Lennon at Leicester City under Martin O’Neill.  Speaking at the recent Football Black List Awards he defended his former teammate from accusations, from some within and outwith football, who claim that Lennon “brings it on himself.”

Prior to being hit, he had been celebrating, by gesticulating to rival fans after Hearts had an injury-time goal disallowed.

The ex-England internationalist said: “It’s completely unacceptable. We are in 2018 and not the 1970s. You would like to think the game and society would have moved on.

“When you cross that white line, people think they can use language which they would never use on the street.  As a player you can get your own back by scoring a goal but it’s different when you’re a manager.  

“Neil would have got dog’s abuse for 90 mins. Yet on the occasion he gets his own back, he gets hit.

“I have known Neil for a long time. He’s a competitor, no doubt about that.  There are those who say he needs to calm down but he’s a character. You need people like him in the game. Otherwise we will be left with robots.

“I just hope the authorities identify the person involved and make an example of them.  The message needs to go out that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”

The Football Black List recognises African and Caribbean achievement in football. For further information please visit