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Champions League: Celtic Boss Bans Players from Swapping Shirts with Barcelona

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22:  Manager Neil Lennon of Celtic FC faces the media during a press conference ahead their UEFA Champions League Group G match between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC at the Melia Barcelona Hotel on October 22, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images
Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterOctober 23, 2012

Neil Lennon has some valuable advice for his Celtic players ahead of Tuesday night's UEFA Champions League match at Barcelona's Camp Nou.

Keep your shirts on, boys.

No really. Lennon, who himself has been known to lose his cool at times, is calling for his players to keep their cool in the demigod-like presence of Barcelona's galaxy of superstars.

The strategy? Don't make plans before the game trade shirts with Lionel Messi or Xavi or Andres Iniesta (OK, not even Victor Valdes either).

After the game? Yeah, that might be fine. But don't even think about it before the first whistle

Here are Lennon's comments, per the Scottish Daily Record:

All this stuff about chasing after shirts is nonsense.

I don’t want my players getting involved in all that. I won’t be in the tunnel when the teams walk out but I just want them to look straight ahead, not look to the side at their opponents. I want them to try to focus on getting a foothold on the game at some stage.

It's easy to snicker at Lennon, but he might have a point.


Remember that linesman who asked Messi for a picture at halftime of a South American World Cup qualifier last week? Yeah, his integrity might have been compromised just a wee bit.

For Celtic, it isn't integrity that's at stake. We all know Lennon and company will be going all out for a win, or even just a point.

But with Barcelona's defense in disarray, an upset might just on the line. With that in mind, better keep those shirts on.


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