NEIL Lennon admits he may never escape the “dark clouds” that have hung over him in Scotland.
But the former Hibs and Celtic boss is adamant he will not allow those who whisper in the shadows to dampen his enthusiasm for a return to management.
The 47-year-old has decided to take the rest of the season off after parting company with Hibernian last month.
His Easter Road exit came amid reports of a stormy row with the Leith outfit’s chief executive Leeann Dempster.
Those rumours played into a narrative that Lennon’s hot-blooded temper can make him a difficult figure to work with.
The former Parkhead skipper has fought against those claims as strenuously as he has the assertions that incidents like being struck by a coin at Tynecastle back in November – an act Lennon believed was linked to the “anti-Irish racism” that he has faced ever since he moving north from Leicester in 2001 – were brought on by his own behaviour.
A move abroad might be the only way to escape the negative images that continue to circle overhead but Lennon insists if the right job was to present itself then he might one day find himself back prowling Scottish touchlines.
“At lot of what’s said about me is unfair,” he said. “If you look at my record as a manager up here it’s been pretty good.
“I’ve won a lot and had a lot of success at both the clubs I’ve managed up here.
“But then there’s this dark cloud that surrounds you whether it be the sectarianism or the volatility that people think is part of my personality.
“You try and shed that baggage but maybe you’re stuck with it.
“But if that is the case it still wouldn’t deter me from working in Scotland again.”
However, Lennon – who led Celtic to three top-flight league titles before guiding Hibs out of the Championship in his first season in charge at Easter Road – seems more likely to pursue job opportunities further afield.
He once turned down a move to Spain while he was Celtic’s skipper but revealed his is already putting plans in place to ensure he can make a seamless transition should another offer come along in future.
Lennon said: “Eventually I’d like to get back in. I’ve been doing this for the best part of 10 years now but it’s nice to have a break and re-evaluate things.
“I don’t envision going back into football between now and the end of the season.
“However, after a while you do get that itch again. Jobs are a precious commodity and the longer you’re out the game, the more difficult it is to get back in.
“Eventually if there’s something in Scotland, England or abroad that really appeals then I’ll take the plunge.
“If abroad, where? Somewhere hot.
“Towards the end of my time at Celtic I came close to going to Levante. I had an offer to move to Spain and it was in the offing. But once Celtic came in and offered me a new contract that was that.
“However, the move did appeal – it was just at that time in my career I thought another year at Celtic was perfect for me.
“But going abroad, trying a different culture of both football and life, does appeal.
“At the minute I’m trying to learn a new language. I did Portuguese last year and failed miserably so I’m trying Spanish now. It’s just about adding another string to your bow.”