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Northern Ireland appoint O'Neill as manager

Northern Ireland's Football Association has confirmed former Shamrock Rovers boss Michael O'Neill as the new coach on an initial two-year deal. The 42-year-old former Newcastle, Dundee United and Hibernian player will take control of the national team from 1st February.

"I am honoured to be chosen to manage my country. I am a proud Northern Irishman who was fortunate enough to win 33 senior caps and it was always an ambition to manage my country," he told theirishfa.com.

"To be entrusted with the role early in my managerial career is quite humbling but I am confident that we can make progress. Northern Ireland has a strong football tradition but one that needs to be refreshed with some more contemporary success.

"That is my primary objective - to restore a sense of belief and pride in what it means to represent Northern Ireland so that our players will want only to play for their country. That is how it should be.

"There is a huge amount of work to be done but with the right direction and the necessary passion good progress can be made. The board and the CEO have a clear plan for the future and have given me responsibility to set about the task of renewal within the context of a long-term plan.

"At the same time, in the interests of everyone involved, most particularly our supporters my job is to work with the players to sustain a competitive performance throughout the qualifying phase of the 2014 World Cup finals."

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Dave Williams

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