Friday 30 September 2016

Michael O'Neill has been awarded a new long-term contract with Northern Ireland

Published 16/03/2016 | 12:13

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has signed a long-term contract
Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has signed a long-term contract

Michael O'Neill has signed a new four-year contract as Northern Ireland manager after guiding the country to this summer's European Championships.

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O'Neill's deal, which sees him become the highest-paid manager in Northern Ireland's history, keeps him in charge until June 2020.

It is reward for the 46-year-old after he led the country to their first finals of a major tournament since 1986.

Northern Ireland created history by becoming the first fifth seeds to win a European Championship qualifying group, finishing above the likes of Romania, Hungary, Finland and Greece in Group F.

O'Neill told www.irishfa.com: "I am extremely proud to be manager of Northern Ireland and I have thoroughly enjoyed the role over the past four years.

"I am therefore pleased to have signed this new long-term contract with the stability that it brings to me, the staff and the players. We are all now looking forward to Euro 2016 and the chance to create more history this summer."

Northern Ireland will play Poland (June 12), Ukraine (June 16) and Germany (June 21) in the group stages of the European Championships in France.

It will be the country's first appearance in a major competition since qualifying for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and Irish Football Association president Jim Shaw said O'Neill has made dreams come true for a generation of Irish supporters.

''Michael O'Neill has been absolutely magnificent for football in Northern Ireland. Most people could only dare to dream that Northern Ireland would play in a major championship again but Michael made those dreams a reality,'' Shaw said.

"He is a wonderful ambassador for Northern Ireland and I am absolutely delighted that he has signed this new four-year contract with the Irish FA."

O'Neill, who won 31 caps for Northern Ireland as a player, has been manager since February 2012 having previously enjoyed success at club level with Shamrock Rovers, Brechin City and Cowdenbeath.

Northern Ireland continue their preparations for the summer next week with a friendly in Wales (March 24) before hosting Slovenia (March 28).

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