Michael O'Neill has been confirmed as the manager of Northern Ireland for the second time today

Michael O'Neill has been confirmed as the manager of Northern Ireland for the second time today

FORMER NORTHERN IRELAND manager Michael O'Neill has returned to the role today. O'Neill (53) has signed a five-and-a-half year contract with the Irish Football Association.

The former Stoke boss said today: “I am delighted to be the Northern Ireland senior men’s manager. I am excited to see what can be achieved with this group of players and can’t wait to be in front of the Green and White Army at the National Stadium once again."

Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood added : “I believe Michael is the right man for the job. He comes to the role this time with the benefit of even more experience at both international and domestic level, which will have only added to his skill set and experience.

“With a positive Euro 2024 qualifying draw I have no doubt the Green and White Army will get behind him and his team.”

O'Neill, a Armagh man first took the job in 2011 and ended the north's 30-year wait to reach a major tournament by helping guide the team to Euro 2016.

He co-managed Stoke City and the country for a number of years, but due to Coronavirus pandemic, he committed himself fully to the Potters shortly after.

Northern Ireland have been without a manager since sacking of Ian Baraclough this year.

After a poor Nations league campaign, he was sacked in October after narrowly avoiding back-to-back relegations in the Nations League.”

Irish FA Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “Michael is back and here for the long run. We are focused immediately on the upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying campaign which starts in March 2023, but beyond that there is so much to look forward to, including the UEFA Euro 2028 tournament where we will hopefully be co-hosting as part of a successful UK and Ireland bid.”

And Irish FA Chairman Stephen Martin added: “I am very pleased with the appointment and extend a warm welcome back to Michael. With a busy and important 2023 on the horizon, consisting of 10 European qualifying matches, the board and I look forward to working with him, and supporting his staff and players. These are exciting times.”

O'Neill's next job will be getting out of the Euro 2024 qualifying group with the likes of Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Kazakhstan and San Marino.

Northern Ireland will begin their Euro 2024 qualification campaign with an away trip to San Marino in March and finish it with a home match against Denmark next November.