Neil Lennon is thrilled to be part of what he describes as an exclusive club.
The Hibs boss reckons that the position of Celtic manager is akin to being the President of the USA.
But that won’t stop him trying to Trump his one-time managerial mentor on Saturday as Celtic and Hibs clash in the Premiership.
Lennon owes a personal debt to Brendan Rodgers who took the then Celtic development coach under his wing when his fellow Northern Irishman was boss at Reading.
He said: “Being the Celtic manager is like being President of the USA. There’s only been a few of us in the course of the club’s history and it’s a very special group to be among. I’m very proud of that.
“I get on very well with Brendan. He was very good to me early on in my career when I started coaching.
“His brother contacted me through email and I was able to go down to Reading to see him for a couple of days. He had Frank Lampard Sr as his assistant and it was a great couple of days.
“I took an enormous amount of information from him and he was really good. It was something completely different. It wasn’t anything out of left field, it was just really thorough. There was a real snap to the training sessions.
“It was really interesting the way he made you think about the game. He learned a lot coming through at Chelsea but he is definitely his own man now. He has now taken his career on to great things.
“Knowing Brendan he will want to improve or try to improve every aspect of his managerial acumen. I’m delighted for him as he seems in a very good place at the minute.
“The way his teams play are a joy to watch. I like this Celtic team, I like it a lot.”
Lennon was one of the first to congratulate Rodgers after the 3-0 Champions League win over Anderlecht on Wednesday night.
Lenny knew exactly how Rodgers felt as he is the only other Celtic boss to have masterminded a Champions League win on the road – a 3-2 win at Spartak Moscow in October 2012.
Lennon said: “I sent Brendan a text after the win in Anderlecht and he got back to me. It’s his first win in the Champions League and it’s a brilliant feeling.
“The only advantage we might have is that Celtic have played that game so they might need a day or two to recover. If there is any sign of fatigue we need to capitalise on that.”
One piece of good news for Lennon’s side this weekend could be the absence of Scott Brown.
The Celtic and Scotland skipper is a major injury doubt after limping out of the Anderlecht game with a tight hamstring.
Lennon said: “If Brown is out for Saturday, yeah, that would be good! But if he’s out for Scotland that’s serious.
‘“The influence he brings is crucial and he’s getting better.
“I hope for Scotland’s sake, going into these big games, that he’s fit.
“I’m also hoping he doesn’t recover for Saturday! So yeah, he could do with a break.”
Lennon credits Brown for helping him become the permanent Celtic manager in 2010 after he inherited the reins on a temporary basis from Tony Mowbray.
The Hibs boss said: “Broony has always been a good player. I wouldn’t have got the Celtic job if it wasn’t for him.
“When I was interim manager, we won the last eight games in the league – and he was fantastic for us, he played really well. Then he was great for me during the four years I was permanent manager.
“He had a few injuries, came back from them and now looks as good as ever.
“He had a brilliant season last year and started this season really well for club and country. So I think he’s underrated in terms of his footballing ability.
“People talk about the gallusness and aggression. But Broony can really play, he can really handle the ball. He’s a fantastic athlete and a great presence on the pitch as well.
“He was a good player even when I played against him despite all the noise around him.
“He was powerful and quick. Even at an early age, you could see that.”
“Under me he showed great maturity and he still has the respect as he had then of the dressing room. He’s a huge figure in that team.”
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