Martin O’Neill pictured at the end of his tenure as Republic manager during a friendly game against Northern Ireland in November 2018.
By Irish Echo Staff
North American Irish Coaches and Modern Soccer Coach will host a live interview tomorrow, Friday, April 10, at 2 p.m. EST (7 p.m. Irish/UK time) with the former Republic of Ireland, Celtic, Leicester Ciy, Aston Villa and Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill.
Gary Curneen of Modern Soccer will MC the initial the Q&A with O’Neill, and then it will be opened up for questions from the audience. Reserve here.
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In his playing career, O’Neill is best known for his decade at the top level from 1971 with Nottingham Forest, which under manager Brian Clough won the First Division Championship in 1978, and the European Cup in 1979 and again in 1980. He managed nine clubs, as well as the Republic of Ireland, between from 1987 and 2019. He played for Northern Ireland 64 times from 1971 until 1984.
Born in Kilrea, Co. Derry, in 1952, he was the sixth of nine children in a family with a long tradition in Gaelic games. His father was a founder of Padraig Pearse’s Kilrea and two of his older brothers played for Derry in the All Ireland senior championship final of 1958. O’Neill himself played Gaelic football with St. Columba’s, Derry, and at St. Malachy’s, Belfast, as a boarder. When St. Malachy’s qualified for the colleges MacRory Cup final, the Antrim GAA Board refused to allow the game to go ahead at Casement Park because of the ban on “foreign games,” and O’Neill had begun his soccer career at local Belfast club Rosaria. The two colleges involved agreed to play the final elsewhere.
The Kilrea man made a big splash early in his senior soccer career with Distillery when he scored twice in the 3-0 win in the 1971 Irish Cup final against Derry City. Distillery qualified for the European Cup Winners Cup and O’Neill was the scorer in the 3-1 home loss to Barcelona.
That year, the Queen’s University law student gave up his studies when talent-spotted by Nottingham Forest in England’s old First Division. Forest was relegated in 1972, but in 1975 hired the brilliant and controversial maverick Clough, who brought the club back to the top tier in 1977. The team became First Division champions in 1978, and went all the way to the European Cup final in Munich in 1979, in which it beat Malmo 1-0. O’Neill had been injured that season and Clough kept him on the subs bench for the final. The player was, however, in the side when Nottingham Forest again became European champions in 1980, after beating Hamburg 1-0 at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid. Forest also won the League Cup twice in this period.
O’Neill captained Northern Ireland in the World Cup in 1982, in which his side dramatically defeated host country Spain in the group stage. He also twice won the Home Championship, in 1980 and 1984.
O’Neill began his managerial career below the Football League system with Grantham Town. Highlights, trophy-wise, were the three SPL titles garnered and three Scottish Cup final wins with Celtic during his five-year stint there from 2000. The Glasgow club were also runners-up in the Uefa Cup in 2003, losing to 3-2 to Porto in final in Seville.
Previously, he brought Leicester up to the Premiership in 1996 and won the League Cup (England’s third most important title) twice, in 1997 and 2000.
O’Neill was appointed manager of Aston Villa in 2006, and got 6th-place EPL finishes in each of this last three years there through 2010 and then went to Sunderland for a time before becoming an international manager. Overall, he was named Premier League Manager of the Month eight times in his years in the top tier.
The Derry man took over the Republic of Ireland job in 2013, taking the squad to the 2016 European Championships, and on the way there beat world champions Germany at the Aviva Stadium. He and his assistant Roy Keane resigned in 2018.
O’Neill’s last managerial stint was a brief one with his old club Nottingham Forest in 2019.