John Kennedy (Scottish footballer)

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John Kennedy
Personal information
Full name John Kennedy
Date of birth (1983-08-18) 18 August 1983 (age 38)
Place of birth Airdrie, Scotland
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Position(s) Centre-back[2]
Club information
Current team
Celtic (assistant manager)
Youth career
0000–1999 Celtic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1999–2009 Celtic 28 (1)
2008Norwich City (loan) 16 (2)
Total 44 (3)
National team
2002–2004 Scotland U21 15 (1)
2003 Scotland B 1 (0)
2004 Scotland 1 (0)
Teams managed
2021 Celtic (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

John Kennedy (born 18 August 1983) is a Scottish professional football coach and former player who is currently the assistant manager of Scottish Premiership club Celtic. Since retirement, Kennedy has served as a scout, first team coach and assistant manager to Neil Lennon, Ronny Deila, Brendan Rodgers and Ange Postecoglou respectively.

He played as a centre-back for Celtic and Norwich City, and won one international cap for Scotland. He suffered a serious knee injury on his international debut in March 2004, and retired in 2009 having failed to fully recover.

Since retiring from playing, Kennedy has worked as a scout and a coach for Celtic. In February 2019, he was appointed assistant manager of the club, and he became caretaker manager in February 2021 after Neil Lennon left Celtic.

Early life[edit]

John Kennedy was born on 18 August 1983 in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.[2] He is the maternal grandson of Celtic and Manchester United forward Jimmy Delaney and nephew of Motherwell defender Pat Delaney.[3]

Playing career[edit]


Kennedy came through Celtic's youth system and signed his first professional contract on the same day as fellow defender Stephen McManus. He made his first-team debut aged 16 during the 1999–2000 season.[4] Kennedy was the youngest Celtic player to be called up to the first-team squad and then the youngest debutant.[5][6] He played in the U18 team in 2000–01,[7] and lost the Scottish Youth Cup final to Aberdeen.[8] In the 2003–04 season, he had a run in the Celtic starting eleven and came under scrutiny from scouts of A.C. Milan who contacted Celtic about making a move.[9] It was during this season that Kennedy scored his only goal for Celtic, against Dundee in the SPL.[10]

Kennedy received high praise for his performance in a 0–0 draw with Barcelona in a UEFA Cup last-16 clash at the Camp Nou in March 2004.[11][12] Within weeks he was given his international debut, but was seriously injured by a dangerous tackle during that match. Kennedy required several operations by Richard Steadman[13] before he could even attempt a comeback.[14] Following his injury, the SFA compensated Celtic with respect to Kennedy's wages, as it had been suffered while he was playing in an international match.[4][15] Before his injury, Kennedy made enough appearances to qualify for a title medal and played twice in the Scottish Cup win that season.[16]

Kennedy finally resumed training in late 2006, and was an unused substitute for Celtic's Champions League match against A.C. Milan on 20 February 2007. He played his first competitive match since the injury on 22 April 2007, when Celtic clinched the SPL championship by winning 2–1 against Kilmarnock.[17] Four days later, on 26 April, Kennedy signed a new three-year contract with the club.[18]

Kennedy made further appearances for Celtic over the next several months, but during a Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk on 28 November 2007, he was stretchered off after he twisted his knee on landing from an aerial challenge.[19] The initial diagnosis was that he sustained damage to his lateral meniscus and the posterior lateral complex of the same knee he had previously injured, ruling him out for three months.[20] This match proved to be Kennedy's final appearance for Celtic.[21]

Norwich City (loan)[edit]

On 14 July 2008, BBC Sport reported that Kennedy had joined Motherwell on a six-month loan deal,[22] but this report was denied by Celtic later that day.[23] Kennedy did, however, meet up with the Motherwell squad in Austria, on trial. Soon afterwards Kennedy joined Norwich City on loan until January 2009.[24] He made his Norwich debut in a 2–0 defeat to Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena on 9 August 2008.[25] Kennedy's performances for Norwich were impressive,[26] and he scored in games with Derby County[27] and Preston North End.[28]


Kennedy suffered ankle ligament damage during his time at Norwich,[29] and he returned to Celtic after further damaging his troubled knee in December 2008.[30] On 13 November 2009, it was announced that, at the age of just 26, Kennedy had retired from football on medical grounds.[21][31][32]

He was awarded a Special Recognition award at Celtic FC end of season awards in 2010.[33]


Kennedy played in both legs of the play-off defeat to Croatia U21s to qualify for the Under-21 Euros in 2003.[34][35] He was the only remaining regular fit Scotland U21 centre-back going in to the second leg.[36] His only goal at under-21 level came from a Michael Stewart set piece in a 2–1 against Israel U21s in 2002.[37]

Following fine performances for Celtic, Kennedy was called up to the Scotland squad for a friendly against Romania on 31 March 2004, and was selected to start the match.[38] After 14 minutes, Kennedy sustained a serious injury to his leg after a late challenge by Ionel Ganea,[39] which eventually ruled him out of action for almost three years.[4]

Testimonial matches[edit]

A testimonial fixture for Kennedy between Scotland and Celtic was discussed,[4] while a match between Finn Harps and Celtic had been arranged for 28 November 2010, but was postponed. The game was then played on Sunday 6 March, with Celtic winning 4–1. A further testimonial match was arranged for Sunday 22 May 2011 at Celtic Park between Celtic and some of the Celtic team that reached the 2003 UEFA Cup Final, including then manager Martin O'Neill.[40] This match was also postponed,[41] and eventually replaced with a match between a team of Celtic Legends, managed by Martin O'Neill, and a team of Manchester United Legends. The match was played on 9 August 2011 with Celtic winning 5–2, and the proceeds were donated to Oxfam's East Africa charity appeal.[42]

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring as a player, Kennedy became a first-team scout for Celtic in 2010,[43] working in this capacity for the club until 2011, travelling around Europe to help find new players for the club.[44][45]

Kennedy gained coaching qualifications and worked as a coach with the club's U19 squad in season 2011–12, and the Development Squad (reserve team) from 2012 to 2014. He led the Celtic youth team to a league an cup double in 2011–12 and 2012–13 and a third straight title in 2013–14.[46][47][48] Kennedy also oversaw the Under-19 team compete in the NextGen Series in 2011–12, a pan-European competition for youth teams.[47]

He became first-team coach in 2014 after the appointment of Ronny Deila as manager,[49][50] winning the Scottish league championship in each of Deila's two seasons in charge, as well as the Scottish League Cup in 2014–15.[51] He continued in the role under Brendan Rodgers from 2016, and Celtic won domestic trebles in both 2016–17 and 2017–18.[52] In February 2019, Kennedy was promoted to assistant manager when Neil Lennon replaced Rodgers as manager.[53]

After the resignation of Neil Lennon in February 2021, Kennedy was appointed caretaker manager of Celtic.[54]

Charity work[edit]

In the summer of 2010, Kennedy joined the board of Directors of the UK based charity Football Aid.[55] Kennedy is also a patron of Les Hoey's Dreammaker Foundation.[citation needed]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 15 May 2021[56]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team Nat From To Record
G W D L GF GA GD Win %
Celtic (caretaker) Scotland 24 February 2021 15 May 2021 10 4 4 2 17 8 +9 040.00
Total 10 4 4 2 17 8 +9 040.00







  1. ^ "John Kennedy". AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b "John Kennedy". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  3. ^ Now You Know: Faddy's still in frame for Scots' honour roll, Evening Times, 19 September 2013
  4. ^ a b c d "End-of-season benefit match for John Kennedy on agenda at SFA and Celtic". The Herald. 17 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Valgaeren declared fit for UEFA semi-final after injury scare". Herald Scotland. 1 April 2003. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  6. ^ "John Kennedy: 'It's a dream' to manage Celtic after starting as a 'boot boy'". BBC Sport. 9 March 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Celtic's Bhoy comes of age". Herald Scotland. 1 May 2001. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Young guns shoot for the top Entertainment is name of the game as Tiernan and Michie grab the glory for Aberdeen". Herald Scotland. 10 May 2001. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
  9. ^ Hillcoat, John (29 November 2009). "John's life so painful out of game". Sunday Mail.
  10. ^ "Celtic dump brave Dundee". BBC Sport. 13 December 2003. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Celtic stun Barcelona". BBC Sport. 25 March 2004.
  12. ^ "Heroes of the Nou Camp". Scotland on Sunday. 2 March 2008.
  13. ^ "Kennedy begins long path to recovery after costly Romanian tackle". The Independent. 7 April 2004.
  14. ^ "Celtic back full Kennedy recovery". BBC Sport. 20 October 2005.
  15. ^ "Kennedy compensation for Celtic". BBC Sport. 14 November 2005.
  16. ^ a b "John Kennedy 2003–04 career statistics". Soccerbase. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  17. ^ Moffat, Colin (22 April 2007). "Kilmarnock 1–2 Celtic". BBC Sport.
  18. ^ "Kennedy signs new Celtic contract". BBC Sport. 26 April 2007.
  19. ^ "Celtic wait on John Kennedy injury verdict". Daily Telegraph. 29 November 2007.
  20. ^ "John Kennedy Injury update". Celtic FC. 29 November 2007. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008.
  21. ^ a b "Heartache for John Kennedy as injury ends his career at 26". The Scotsman. 14 November 2009.
  22. ^ "Celtic duo poised for Well switch". BBC Sport. 14 July 2008.
  23. ^ "No loan agreement for Kennedy". Celtic FC. 14 July 2008. Archived from the original on 20 September 2008.
  24. ^ "Norwich win loan race for Kennedy". BBC Sport. 27 July 2008. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  25. ^ "Coventry v Norwich". Sky Sports. 19 September 2008. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008.
  26. ^ "Celtic loan star John Kennedy earns rave reviews at Norwich". Daily Record. 27 October 2008.
  27. ^ "Norwich City manager Glenn Roeder says referees making 'more mistakes than ever'". Daily Telegraph. 29 October 2008.
  28. ^ "Norwich 2–2 Preston: Goal ace Mellor is top of the pops". Daily Mirror. 10 November 2008.
  29. ^ "Kennedy injured as Burley watches". BBC Sport. 17 September 2008.
  30. ^ "Norwich wait on Kennedy knee scan". BBC Sport. 16 December 2008.
  31. ^ "John Kennedy forced to retire from football". Celtic FC. 13 November 2009. Archived from the original on 16 November 2009.
  32. ^ "Celtic's Kennedy forced to retire". BBC Sport. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  33. ^ "Keane voted Celtic player of the year". The Independent. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  34. ^ "Young Scots still hopeful after Croatia fail to land killer blow Bonhof's under-21s outplayed, but not out of contention". Herald Scotland. 17 November 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Scotland the brave but luck runs out for Bonhof's men". Herald Scotland. 19 November 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
  36. ^ "Play-off is not finished yet, Bonhof warns Croats". Herald Scotland. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
  37. ^ "Shadow over bright young things Protestors mar another victory for Bonhoff's boys". Herald Scotland. 5 September 2002. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  38. ^ "Angry Vogts read riot act after Wales, says Dailly World Cup qualifying places at stake, warns coach". Herald Scotland. 30 March 2004. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  39. ^ "Scotland 1–2 Romania". BBC Sport. 31 March 2004.
  40. ^ "Seville Celts return for John Kennedy Tribute Match". Celtic FC. 11 April 2011. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012.
  41. ^ "Celtic tribute game for John Kennedy is postponed". BBC Sport. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  42. ^ "Oxfam appeal match at Celtic park raises £300,000". BBC News. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  43. ^ "John Kennedy set for comeback as Celtic's first-team scout". The Guardian. 14 January 2010. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  44. ^ "Celtic scout young Swedish winger Frempong". STV Sport. 27 October 2010. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012.
  45. ^ "I love the pressure of trying to find new talent for Celtic, says scout and ex-star John Kennedy". Sunday Mail. 13 June 2010.
  46. ^ a b c "John Kennedy hails Celtic's double-winning Under-19". Evening Times. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  47. ^ a b c d "Dunfermline U20 1 - 3 Celtic U20: Kennedy's side champs". The Scotsman. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  48. ^ a b "Dundee United 0 Celtic 2: Celtic youths seal five-in-a-row in final day of drama in the Under-20 league". Daily Record. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  49. ^ Sutherland, Jonathan (27 August 2015). "Ronny Deila 'scared' remarks misconstrued - John Kennedy". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  50. ^ Brannan, Laura (20 April 2016). "In pictures: The highs and lows of Ronny Deila's Celtic reign". STV Sport. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  51. ^ "Kennedy leaves the past behind to embrace a new chapter at Celtic". Herald Scotland. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  52. ^ "John Kennedy: Double Treble the pinnacle of my career so far". Celtic FC. 26 May 2018. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  53. ^ "Celtic players 'know they have a job to do', says John Kennedy". BBC Sport. 27 February 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  54. ^ "Neil Lennon: Celtic manager resigns with side 18 points adrift of Rangers". BBC Sport. 24 February 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  55. ^ "List of Directors for Football Aid". Football Aid. Archived from the original on 1 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  56. ^ "John Kennedy career sheet". footballdatabase. footballdatabase. Retrieved 27 February 2021.

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