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.
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," he said.
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," Lennon added.