Neil Lennon has announced his retirement from international football following the paramilitary death threat he received in the lead up to Northern Ireland's friendly international against Cyprus in Windsor Park last night. The threat was received by the BBC yesterday afternoon and relayed to the police and then the Irish coaching staff.

Lennon decided to withdraw from the team and his role as captain after discussions with manager Sammy McIlroy and after discussions with his family decided to bring down the curtain on his international career.

He said, "My parents were pretty distraught really, I've a tiny wee daughter who knows nothing about this at the moment and we want to try and keep her away from it as much as we can. I've thought long and hard about it and I've decided I probably won't be going back to play for Northern Ireland. I've enjoyed my career at international level, but it's time for me to say enough's enough."

Lennon admitted to being disturbed when he was told about the death threat. He said, "The Police told me that there had been a call made to the BBC saying that somebody from the LVF had phoned and there was going an attack on myself. It didn't say when but we presume it was going to be at the game. It was very disturbing at the time."

Irish Football Association chiefs angrily denounced those who forced Lennon out of the game and Association president Jim Boyce said he fully respected the player's decision.

He said, "This is just unbelievable. It is a terrible blight once again on society in Northern Ireland especially when you think of the efforts made by the Irish Football Association to stamp this sort of thing out. It is something that the decent people of Northern Ireland totally and utterly condemn."

Filed by Johnny Proby