Former Shamrock Rovers boss O”Neill confirmed as new Northern Ireland manager
Michael O’Neill has been appointed as the new Northern Ireland manager.
The former Shamrock Rovers boss, who earned 33 caps for his country as a player, edged out two other former internationals in Jim Magilton and Iain Dowie for the job.
Ex-Ipswich Town boss Magilton is currently employed as a football consultant at Shamrock, while Dowie, who has managed Crystal Palace, Coventry City and Queens Park Rangers, was last involved in a similar role at Hull City in 2010.
New boss: Michael O”Neill will officially take over as manager on February 1
O”Neill will start work with the Irish Football Association on February 1.
The 42-year-old resigned his post at Shamrock earlier this month after making them the first League of Ireland side to qualify for the group stages of a major European competition.
O”Neill”s predecessor Nigel Worthington announced his resignation on the eve of the final Euro 2012 qualifier against Italy in October, ending a disappointing campaign that saw the side finish fifth in the standings.
The IFA – led by president Jim Shaw and chief executive Patrick Nelson – duly set about seeking a replacement, eventually narrowing the field to O”Neill, Magilton and Dowie despite reported interest from a host of names including Gerry Armstrong, Avram Grant, Dave Jones and Brian Kerr.
In the running: Former Hull manager Iain Dowie was interviewed for the position
O”Neill, whose other managerial job was at Brechin City, said: “I am honoured to be chosen to manage my country.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.
Applied: Jim Magilton, now working at Shamrock, was also interested in the job
“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.”
O”Neill”s first game in charge will be a friendly in Belfast against Norway, on February 29.