Michael O'Neill (footballer)

Michael O'Neill

Michael O'Neill in 2015
Personal information
Full name Michael Andrew Martin O'Neill
Date of birth (1969-07-05) 5 July 1969
Place of birth Portadown, Northern Ireland
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Northern Ireland (manager)
Youth career
Star United
Chimney Corner
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1987 Coleraine 18 (4)
1987–1989 Newcastle United 48 (15)
1989–1993 Dundee United 64 (11)
1993–1996 Hibernian 97 (19)
1996–1998 Coventry City 5 (0)
1998Aberdeen (loan) 6 (0)
1998Reading (loan) 9 (1)
1998–2000 Wigan Athletic 66 (2)
2000–2001 St Johnstone 9 (0)
2001 Portland Timbers 22 (5)
2001–2002 Clydebank 19 (4)
2002–2004 Glentoran 44 (4)
2004 Ayr United 2 (0)
Total 409 (65)
National team
1994 Northern Ireland U21 1 (0)
1989 Northern Ireland U23 1 (0)
1994–1999 Northern Ireland B 2 (0)
1988–1996 Northern Ireland 31 (4)
Teams managed
2006–2008 Brechin City
2009–2011 Shamrock Rovers
2011– Northern Ireland

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Michael Andrew Martin O'Neill (born 5 July 1969) is a football manager and former professional footballer from Northern Ireland who is the current manager of the Northern Ireland national team.

O'Neill started his playing career in his native Northern Ireland with Coleraine, before playing for a number of clubs in England, Scotland and the United States, including Newcastle United, Dundee United, Hibernian, Wigan Athletic and Portland Timbers. He was capped 31 times at international level by Northern Ireland, in which he scored four goals.

His first managerial role was with Brechin City, who he managed from 2006 to 2008, when he accepted the post at Shamrock Rovers. Having won two League of Ireland titles and the Setanta Cup with Rovers, he took over as Northern Ireland manager in 2012. Under O'Neill, Northern Ireland qualified for Euro 2016, their first ever European Championship.

Early life

Michael O'Neill was born on 5 July 1969 in Portadown, County Armagh, to parents Des and Patricia O'Neill.[1] Raised Catholic,[2] he briefly attended Presentation Convent Primary School before the family moved to Ballymena, County Antrim.[3] In Ballymena he attended All Saints Primary School and later St Louis Grammar School, where he won the Northern Ireland Schools FA Cup. He was also a promising Gaelic games player, representing Antrim GAA minors,[1] before concentrating on football. He played youth football for Ballymena team Star United for four years before joining intermediate club Chimney Corner.[4]

Playing career


O'Neill began his senior career with Coleraine, making his debut in the Irish League at the age of 15. After playing against Dundee United in a UEFA Cup tie in 1987, O'Neill came close to joining the Scottish club.[5]

In October 1987, however, he was signed by Newcastle United for a £100,000 fee. After scoring 13 goals in 22 appearances during his first season and helping Newcastle finish eighth in Football League Division One, O'Neill suffered from injuries and loss of form in his second season, which saw Newcastle relegated.[6]

O'Neill did join Dundee United in August 1989, for a club record fee of £350,000. A difficult relationship with manager Jim McLean came to a head in 1991, when O'Neill refused to extend his contract and was dropped from the first team.[7] He left the club in 1993, joining Hibernian, where he had three successful seasons under the management of Alex Miller. O'Neill agreed to join Austrian club Sturm Graz on a Bosman free transfer in 1996, but changed his mind after an offer to return to English football with Coventry City, where he spent just over two years.[5]

After spending time on loan to Aberdeen and Reading during the 1997-98 season, O'Neill left Coventry to sign for Wigan Athletic in September 1998. He later played for St Johnstone, Portland Timbers, Clydebank, Glentoran and Ayr United.


He played for the U21, U23, B and full national teams of Northern Ireland. He scored four goals for the national team, including two in a 5–3 win against Austria.

Coaching career

O'Neill retired from playing football in 2004 and began a career in financial services.[7] A year later he took a part-time role as assistant manager at Cowdenbeath, working with Mixu Paatelainen.[7]

Brechin City

O'Neill became manager of Scottish side Brechin City in April 2006. He won the Second Division Manager of the Month award in both December 2007[8] and October 2008.[9] O'Neill was released by Brechin City to join Shamrock Rovers on 13 December 2008.[10]

Shamrock Rovers

At the press conference when unveiled as Rovers manager, he cited Gordon Strachan as his main managerial influence.[11] He was awarded the Irish Soccer Writers Manager of the Month award for July 2009 and eventually guided The Hoops to second place in the 2009 League of Ireland.

In October 2010, he guided Shamrock Rovers to win the 2010 League of Ireland title, their first league championship since 1994.[12] O'Neill led Rovers to the 2011 Setanta Sports Cup and then made history by being the first manager of a League of Ireland team to reach the group stages of a European competition.[13] Rovers defeated Partizan Belgrade in the play-off round of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League.[13] Shamrock Rovers retained their league title in the 2011 season.[14][15] New contract talks between O'Neill and Shamrock Rovers stalled[16] and he left the club in December 2011.[17] O'Neill won the Soccer Writers Association Personality of the Year award for 2011.[18]

Northern Ireland

O'Neill was appointed manager of Northern Ireland on 28 December 2011, but, contrary to some reports, he was not "the first Catholic in 50 years to manage Northern Ireland".[2][19] O'Neill first game in charge ended in defeat with a 3–0 loss to Norway.[20] In his next game an inexperienced Northern Ireland team were beaten 6–0 by the Netherlands in Amsterdam. During their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, Northern Ireland earned some creditable results, including a 1–1 draw away to Portugal and a 1–0 home win against Russia.[21]

In November 2013, O'Neill agreed a new two-year deal with Irish Football Association to remain as Northern Ireland manager.[22]

Northern Ireland qualified for their first ever European Championship, Euro 2016 in France after beating Greece 3–1 at Windsor Park on 8 October 2015.[23]

It was the first time in 30 years that Northern Ireland had qualified for a major tournament, and O'Neill was given a king chair and was thrown in the air by his players after the match in celebration. At the tournament itself he led the side to the second round, losing narrowly to Wales but recorded a surprise victory over Ukraine in the group stages.


As a player

As a manager

Managerial statistics

As of match played 15 November 2016
Team Nat From To Record
Brechin City Scotland 4 April 2006 15 December 2008 197 78 57 62 39.59
Shamrock Rovers Republic of Ireland 15 December 2008 28 December 2011 124 66 31 27 53.23
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland 28 December 2011 Present 45 13 15 17 28.89
Total 366 157 103 106 42.90


  1. 1 2 Beacom, Steven (12 September 2015). "Game changer: We profile Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Michael O'Neill says he doesn't want any more players switching south". Joe. 5 January 2012.
  3. "Manager O'Neill met future wife at school". Portadown Times. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  4. O'Neill, Shaun (28 November 2014). "A Night for Arthur". Irish FA. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  5. 1 2 Pattullo, Alan (14 March 2015). "Michael O'Neill flourishing with Northern Ireland". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  6. Morton, David (10 October 2015). "1980s Newcastle United youngster Michael O'Neill - now an international manager". Newcastle Chronicle. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 Wilson, Richard (3 November 2015). "Michael O'Neill: Managing success from Brechin to Euro 2016". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  8. "Managerial award for Brechin boss". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 January 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  9. "O'Neill wins October boss prize". BBC Sport. BBC. 7 November 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  10. Managerial Statement, Brechin City, 13 December 2008.
  11. New Shamrock Rovers boss O’Neill eyeing top four spot – Irish Examiner
  12. "O'Neill relieved to seal title". RTÉ Sport. 30 October 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  13. 1 2 "Shamrock Rovers make history and enter Europe League". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media plc. 26 August 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  14. "O'Neill hails back-to-back champions". Irish Examiner. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  15. Malone, Emmet (26 October 2011). "Kelly secures 17th title for Rovers". Irish Times. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  16. "Pat Fenlon to hold Bohemians talks over Hibs interest". BBC Sport. BBC. 16 November 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  17. http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/news/35-news/2330-club-statement
  18. "Michael O'Neill confirmed as new N Ireland manager". BBC Sport. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  19. "Norway ruin Michael O'Neill's debut as Northern Ireland manager". The Guardian. 29 February 2012.
  20. "Paterson stuns Capello as O'Neill claims first win". Daily Mail. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  21. "Michael O'Neill agrees new two-year deal with N Ireland". BBC Sport. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
  22. "Northern Ireland 3 Greece 1". BBC Sport. 8 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  23. "O'Neill feted with SWAI/Airtricity personality of the year award". FA of Ireland. 14 January 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
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