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FOOTBALL: Amo offers sympathy for Lennon.

Byline: COLIN DUNCAN

LORENZO AMORUSO and Neil Lennon come from opposite sides of the Old Firm divide, but both have encountered the same problems since moving to Glasgow.

The Italian defender has suffered at the hands of the mindless idiots who believe playing for Rangers or Celtic makes you a fair target for off-the field abuse.

Amorsuo has not been physically attacked as Lennon was in the west end of the city on Wednesday night following Celtic's 4-0 win at Motherwell. But, as he admits in his recent autobiography, LA Confidential, there's no shortage of morons who have tried to goad him into a fight.

Amo said: "When I go into the city I occasionally get stick from Celtic fans.

"They call me a traitor and sometimes it gets worse that. I've been out at night and been hassled by people who think they can make a name for themselves by having a go at Lorenzo Amoruso.

"But, I don't encourage them in the slightest. For me, the strongest man is the man who walks away from the provocation these idiots attempt.

"I don't have to show my power or strength and I would not give them the satisfaction of me losing the plot with them.

"I would not be drunk but they would have to be to say some of the things that are said.

"Also, a drunk man can be unpredictable. If I say something back he might have a bottle or a knife.

"I am not stupid enough to think that it doesn't happen on the other side as well.

"I'm sure Rangers fans sometimes have a go at Celtic players when they are on nights out and that is very sad as well.

"I know that Neil Lennon has had problems and he has to learn to walk away because before you know it, these things are all over the papers and you get a reputation you don't deserve.

"I feel really sorry for him because of all the trouble in Ireland. I know that threats have been made against him and his family and it is the worst thing that can happen to a person.

"The public have to realise we are just normal guys who love our job and try to do our best on the pitch.

"All we ask is that people just let us play. We are not robots or extra- terrestrials. We are just people trying to live our lives."

Amoruso is well aware he's the man Celtic supporters love to hate and that's why he refuses to let down his guard in public.

He said: "Personally I have a simple rule which works for me - I do not drink in public places.

"If I'm at home or having dinner with friends then, yes, I like a drink. I'm not going to lie or make myself out to be some kind of choir boy.

"I will only drink when I know I am somewhere safe. If I am in a night- club, for example, and some idiot wants to start some trouble then I know in my mind I must simply walk away."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 10, 2003
Words:522
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