O'Neill confirmed as new Northern Ireland manager

 

Michael O'Neill intends to "restore a sense of belief and pride" in the
Northern Ireland national side after being appointed on a two-year
contract by the Irish Football Association.

The former Shamrock Rovers manager has been chosen ahead of Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie to replace the departed Nigel Worthington at Windsor Avenue and will begin work on February 1.

He inherits a side who failed to live up to modest expectations in their last campaign - which saw them finish fifth in their Euro 2012 qualifying group, ahead of only the Faroe Islands - and must also confront pressing issues of player availability and eligibility which caused problems for Worthington.

In the last couple of years Worthington was forced to deal with frequent squad withdrawals and injury absences, while the issue of Northern Ireland-born players pledging their footballing allegiance to the Republic of Ireland became an increasingly thorny problem for the IFA - who have lost a handful of highly-rated youngsters to the Football Association of Ireland.

But, judging by the 42-year-old's opening statement as national boss, he has an appetite for the task.

"I am honoured to be chosen to manage my country," said O'Neill, who is thought to be earning around half the £450,000-a-year given to his predecessor.

"I am a proud Northern Irishman who was fortunate enough to win 33 senior caps and it was always an ambition to manage my country. To be entrusted with the role early in my managerial career is quite humbling but I am confident that we can make progress.

"Northern Ireland has a strong football tradition but one that needs to be refreshed with some more contemporary success. That is my primary objective - to restore a sense of belief and pride in what it means to represent Northern Ireland so that our players will want only to play for their country.

"That is how it should be. There is a huge amount of work to be done but with the right direction and the necessary passion good progress can be made."

Names as diverse as Dave Jones, Avram Grant, Gerry Armstrong, Brian Kerr and Robbie Fowler had been linked with the job, but an IFA team fronted by president Jim Shaw and chief executive Patrick Nelson narrowed the field to a trio of former internationals in the shape of O'Neill, his Shamrock assistant Magilton and Dowie.

It was O'Neill, who left his post at Tallaght Stadium earlier this month after a successful two-year stay, who made the biggest impression, with Nelson hailing the former Newcastle player's vision for the side.

"Michael was the standout choice from an excellent field," said the chief executive.

"The selection panel was very impressed with his thoughts and plans for football in Northern Ireland over the coming years."

O'Neill arrived at Shamrock after a stint in Scotland with Brechin and won back-to-back League of Ireland titles as well as guiding his side to the group phase of the Europa League with a play-off win over Partizan Belgrade - the first League of Ireland side to do so.

He had been strongly linked with a move to Hibernian job before Pat Fenlon was installed at Easter Road.

O'Neill's reign will get under way with a Windsor Park friendly against Norway on February 29, with further friendlies already agreed with Holland and Finland before the World Cup 2014 campaign gets under way.

His first competitive match will be a testing trip to face Russia on September 7, with Portugal, Azerbaijan, Israel and Luxembourg also waiting in Group F.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot