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Men's Football O'Neill commits future to Northern Ireland

NORTHERN IRELAND boss Michael O’Neill signed a four-year contract extension yesterday, less than three weeks after turning down the Scotland managerial vacancy.

The 48-year-old, whose previous deal expired in 2020, has reached an agreement with the Irish Football Association on a lucrative six-year package, worth in the region of £700,000 per year, that runs until 2024.

O’Neill, who was appointed by the IFA in December 2011, spoke to the Scottish Football Association about succeeding Gordon Strachan last month but elected not to take up their post.

He guided Northern Ireland to the last 16 at Euro 2016, which was their first major tournament since 1986, and then led his nation to a play-off for the 2018 World Cup when they suffered a 1-0 aggregate loss to Switzerland over two legs in November.

O’Neill was in demand after the defeat to the Swiss and spoke to West Brom and Sunderland when their positions were available, with the SFA also swiftly identifying him as its preferred candidate.

However, while the SFA dithered over agreeing to pay his £500,000 compensation fee, the IFA acted swiftly and opened up new discussions about a deal that O’Neill has now penned.

O’Neill said that progressing in his current job appealed more than any other opportunities that came his way.

“I am extremely proud to manage my country and I am pleased to be extending my time in charge of the senior team,” he said.

“In recent months I have been approached about taking other opportunities in football. However, no other challenge attracted me as much as taking Northern Ireland back to a major tournament.”

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