Lambert ready to tackle ‘mentor’

Lambert worked under the Northern Irishman at Celtic as the

Bhoys enjoyed a hugely successful spell, reaching the 2003 UEFA Cup

final, winning three Scottish Cups, the Scottish League Cup and the

Scottish Premier League title three times, as well as playing in

the Champions League group stages.

O’Neill, 59, left Parkhead at the end of the 2004/05 season to

care for his ill wife, but returned to the game at Aston Villa and,

after another break, took over at Sunderland in December following

Steve Bruce’s departure.

Lambert has often been compared to his former manager, who like

the Scotsman had spells in charge of Wycombe and, albeit briefly,


And the 42-year-old feels if he can emulate O’Neill’s

achievements, it will be a job well done.

“My five years at Celtic under him was a major part of my career

and you learn a lot,” Lambert said. “He is brilliant at getting the

best out of people, playing with confidence. I loved playing under

him. It was terrific.

“Whenever I needed advice, I knew I could pick up the phone to


“I would never call him by his first name in case I get fined

still. I have too much respect for him and what he has done.

“There was only one answer to what would happen when he took

over at Sunderland, and it was he would take them up the


“You take bits from everybody you have worked under and I have

always said if I could get a touch of the success he has had, then

I will be doing all right.”

Lambert added: “The gaffer will say himself it is not about me

against him, it is Sunderland versus Norwich.

“I have to try to win for Norwich and he has to try to win for

Sunderland, but it will be strange because of the relationship I

have got with him.”

Norwich head to the Stadium of Light on the back of an

impressive six-match unbeaten run which has seen them consolidate

ninth place in the Premier League and secure a place in the last 16

of the FA Cup with victory at West Brom.

“We are playing with a lot of confidence at the minute and it

will be a great game against a really good side,” Lambert said. “We

will do everything we can to win and have a lot of confidence at

the moment.

“Some of the lads will be fresh from the weekend while others

will need to go again, but whatever team I pick, hopefully we can

go and win.

“The momentum is there and the lads have done terrifically well

over the last six months.”

Lambert remains hopeful of completing some business on transfer

deadline day.

Norwich have already signed Leeds captain Jonny Howson, 23, in a

reported £2million deal as Lambert aims to keep his squad in

the top flight.

“There are some things which I am looking at, but whether they

come off or not, I am not so sure,” he said.

“If they happen, they happen, if they don’t then I am more than

happy with the group who is here and they have done great so