Michael O’Neill has stepped down as manager of Northern Ireland after 8 and half years in charge.
RTE Sport report a mutual decision between the Northern Ireland FA and O’Neill was agreed on to leave the position due to the proposed revision of the international matches by UEFA in regards to the Covid 19 situation.
In a statement he said, “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 continued, I would have loved the opportunity to manage Northern Ireland in the UEFA 2020 play-off game versus Bosnia and Herzegovina and the chance to qualify for another major tournament, but the current situation means that this is no longer possible.”
O’Neill was announced as Stoke City boss in November 2019. He has juggled both positions and said he would see out the 2020 qualifying campaign. However, as Euro 2021 has now been pushed to Euro 2021 he has felt right it was to leave the role. It is looking likely that the play-off games will be played in October or November this year.
O’Neill said he worked with many great medical, coaching and support staff during his time as Northern Ireland boss. He said, “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”. He also thanked all players that he has managed, stating , “I would like to thank them all for an overwhelming level of commitment and professionalism”.
Irish FA Ceo Pat Nelson commenting on O’Neill’s departure said, “It is within a unique set of circumstances that we bring our unforgettable chapter with Michael O’Neill to a close”. He continued, “We were all looking forward to having Michael back to lead the team in March for the game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, but, for obvious reasons, it simply wasn’t to be”.
O’Neill guided Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 in France. It was Northern Ireland’s first time qualifying for a major tournament in 30 years. His side would progress through the group stages only to lose to Wales in the last 16.