JOHN Kennedy has admitted that being given the opportunity to manage Celtic has been the greatest honour of his life despite the difficult season the Parkhead club have endured.

Kennedy was asked to take charge of the Glasgow giants on an interim basis back in February when Neil Lennon resigned after a disappointing run of results had led to them crashing out of the Europa League and ended their hopes of completing 10-In-A-Row.

The former centre half was unable to prevent Celtic from being knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Rangers at Ibrox last month and finishing the 2020/21 campaign trophyless.

However, the 37-year-old, who has worked as a scout, youth coach, member of the first team backroom staff and assistant manager since retiring from playing in 2009, has still felt privileged to be in the high-profile position.

Asked if it had been the biggest honour of his professional career, he said: “Yeah, it has been. I have appreciated the chance to do it.

“But, at the same time, it doesn’t feel quite real because you’re thrust into it and having to deal with everything. It will probably be maybe next week when I sit back and realise.

“This whole time, through the three months, has been non-stop. Because it has been week-to-week, I’ve not really planned too far ahead. I’ve just been dealing with the next game.

“Probably when I sit back and think about it, I will appreciate what has happened in the last three months and the position I find myself in. But it’s just about making sure the club is good and they get things right going forward.”

Kennedy, who has been tipped to move into a director of football role at Celtic this summer after a permanent manager is appointed, has spoken of his desire to become a manager in his own right one day and feels the experience he has gained since February has been invaluable. 

“It’s been a difficult one on the situational side of things, off the back of a difficult season and the manager losing his job,” he said. “Then you’ve got the final three months of the season to see out.

“But in terms of looking back later in life, it will have been really good for me, personally. Not so much for how the football has gone, but in terms of my experience being put in this environment and having to deal with the things I’ve had to deal with.”

Kennedy has worked in and around Celtic in a variety of guises for many years, but he has realised how intense the manager’s role is since being thrust into the hotseat.  

“Certainly, it’s a lot more exhausting,” he said. “You’ve got a lot more responsibility and people to speak to and a lot more duties to carry out.

“But it’s always been about being clear with people, communicating well with people and making sure you trust yourself through that process. There are a lot of people who will have an opinion on what you do, especially at a club like Celtic. Every decision you make, whether it be team selection or whatever, everyone has an opinion.

“But you’ve got to have trust in yourself and your team. From there, you go and execute it. The way we’ve worked has been very stable, we’ve been consistent in how we’ve prepared for games and the message around the training ground. Even in this short time, it’s still stable within the training ground.

“You don’t fully understand it until you’re given the responsibility, with all the little things and jobs you have to do. Whether it be leaving someone out of the squad, these are all things I haven’t experienced before. It makes me better through a difficult time and hopefully it will stand me in good stead going forward.”