Michael O'Neill steps away from Northern Ireland permanently

By Sports Desk April 22, 2020

Michael O'Neill has permanently left his role as Northern Ireland manager with immediate effect.

O'Neill was appointed Stoke City boss in November but pulled double duty to see out Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The 50-year-old was also due to oversee their play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina in March, with the winners then facing the Republic of Ireland or Slovakia, but the coronavirus pandemic saw that fixture postponed.

With UEFA suggesting at a teleconference on Tuesday the play-off games will be rescheduled for October, the decision has been taken for O'Neill – who was appointed in December 2011 – to leave now.

"After careful consideration and following discussions with the Irish FA, I feel it is only fair that now is the right time for me to step aside," he told the Irish Football Association's official website.

"I would have loved the opportunity to manage Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 play-off game versus Bosnia-Herzegovina and the chance to qualify for another major tournament, but the current situation means that this is no longer possible.

"It was important to leave the association and team in the strongest possible shape in order to not only have the best chance of qualifying for Euro 2021, but allow the new manager time to build upon the success that we have had during my eight-year tenure."

Under O'Neill, Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016 where they were beaten 1-0 by Wales in the last 16.

"It has been an honour and an enormous privilege to have had the opportunity to manage my country and I will treasure my time as manager of Northern Ireland forever," he added.

"Throughout my time here, I have been fortunate to have worked with many great coaching, medical and support staff who have all contributed to our successes and shared in some great moments.

"As for my players, past and present, I would like to thank them all for an overwhelming level of commitment and professionalism that has helped to deliver so many unforgettable highs and great experiences for us all."

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