Michael O'Neill in 2015
|Full name||Michael Andrew Martin O'Neill|
|Date of birth||5 July 1969|
|Place of birth||Portadown, Northern Ireland|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Northern Ireland (manager)|
|1998||→ Aberdeen (loan)||6||(0)|
|1998||→ Reading (loan)||9||(1)|
|1994||Northern Ireland U21||1||(0)|
|1989||Northern Ireland U23||1||(0)|
|1994–1999||Northern Ireland B||2||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
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, scoring four goals.
His first managerial role was with Brechin City, whom he managed from 2006 to 2008, when he then 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.
Michael O'Neill was born on 5 July 1969 in Portadown, County Armagh, to parents Des and Patricia O'Neill. Raised Catholic, he briefly attended Presentation Convent Primary School before the family moved to Ballymena, County Antrim. In Ballymena he attended All Saints Primary School and later St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, where he won the Northern Ireland Schools FA Cup. He was also a promising Gaelic games player, representing Antrim GAA minors, before concentrating on football. He played youth football for Ballymena team Star United for four years before joining intermediate club Chimney Corner.
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.
In October 1987 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.
O'Neill joined 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. 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.
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.
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 and October 2008. O'Neill was released by Brechin City to join Shamrock Rovers on 13 December 2008.
At the press conference when unveiled as Rovers manager, he cited Gordon Strachan as his main managerial influence. 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. 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. Rovers defeated Partizan Belgrade in the play-off round of the 2011–12 UEFA Europa League. Shamrock Rovers retained their league title in the 2011 season. New contract talks between O'Neill and Shamrock Rovers stalled and he left the club in December 2011. O'Neill won the Soccer Writers Association Personality of the Year award for 2011.
O'Neill was appointed manager of Northern Ireland on 28 December 2011, with one report stating he was "the first Catholic in 50 years to manage Northern Ireland". However, this is almost certainly untrue, since previous managers Lawrie Sanchez (2004-07) and Lawrie McMenemy (1998-99) were both educated in Roman Catholic schools. O'Neill's first game in charge ended in defeat with a 3–0 loss to Norway. 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 crable results, including a 1–1 draw away to Portugal and a 1–0 home win against Russia.
In November 2013, O'Neill agreed a new two-year deal with Irish Football Association to remain as Northern Ireland manager.
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. It was the first time in 30 years that Northern Ireland had qualified for a major tournament. 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.