Abbott, a former coach of Leeds United’s youth sides, needed “three seconds” to spot Lennon’s ability in an Under-14 match in 2001 but wondered whether a move to London would represent too much, too soon.
Abbott, now manager of League One side Carlisle United, told the London Evening Standard: “Planting him in London was probably done a year too early. Manchester United and Liverpool wanted him and they are much closer to his family in Leeds.
“I believe he found it hard work in London because Aaron is a family boy but he got over it. At Leeds I made sure I was always there for Aaron and his family if there were any issues.
“I went to his house and drove him to games to make sure we weren’t caught out by interest from other clubs. We got him to sign a pro contract with Leeds, he played 43 games and got his move. I spoke to him before our Capital One Cup game against Spurs last September and he was still so grounded. He wasn’t talking about his success or lifestyle but about his family and time at Leeds. He gave me a signed shirt and it has pride of place.”