O'Neill admits he was close to Tottenham move

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The Independent Football

Martin O'Neill has admitted he was on the verge of moving to Tottenham Hotspur two years ago. But only the desire to regain the Scottish Premier League title from Rangers prevented the then Celtic manager from relocating to White Hart Lane in 2003. Celtic had reached the Uefa Cup final but failed to win any of the four trophies they competed for that season.

"It was an extraordinary, fantastic year, one that everybody will keep talking about, yet we ended up without a trophy," O'Neill said. "Rumours were abounding then that it was time to go and, to be honest, Spurs were strongly on the case. But, as things unfolded, I just wanted to regain the championship, I didn't want to leave here with that disappointment around the place.

"So we came back the following season and made sure we did it. And, as I've already said, that is my regret about leaving now, that I won't have the opportunity to come back next season and try to get it back again."

The Scotland Under-21 side's run without a win extended to 19 months when they were held to a goalless draw by Moldova at Firhill on Friday night. Scotland went into the game at the bottom of their European Championship qualification group, trailing their visitors by two points and knowing they needed a platform to build upon ahead of next week's trip to Belarus.

Their manager, Rainer Bonhof, said he does not feel under any pressure although his side have now gone 19 months without a win from 13 attempts. Bonhof's current deal ends in August 2006 and he revealed he could leave before the end of that contract.

"The end of the campaign is in October and the end of my contract is in August next year. But maybe I can expect a chat after the campaign," he said.

"We are missing the results which is the measure of every coach but I have had no discussions with the SFA who are my employers, so until someone tells me differently that's the situation."

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager Don Givens is planning a summer of change following his side's virtual elimination from the European Championship qualifiers. A 2-2 draw against Israel at Flancare Park on Friday night has left Givens' side with no more than the mathematical hope of finishing as the runners-up in Group Four, which would earn a place in the play-offs.

"With qualification more or less gone, we need to make decisions whether to bring in any of the next squad for our last three matches to give them experience," Givens said.