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Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill: Euro trip does not make me a legend

By Steven Beacom

Published 23/12/2015

High jump: Manager Michael O’Neill is thrown into the air by his Northern Ireland players after Euro 2016 qualification was secured
High jump: Manager Michael O’Neill is thrown into the air by his Northern Ireland players after Euro 2016 qualification was secured
You beauts: Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill celebrates qualification for Euro 2016 with his players
On the mic: Michael O’Neill takes his time to thank everyone at the SPOTY awards as an anxious Gary Lineker looks on
Take that: I’m not sure Michael O’Neill’s new boy band is set to rock the Euros
Michael O'Neill

He may have created history by guiding Northern Ireland to the nation's first European Championship finals, and will forever have hero status in the country, but Michael O'Neill says he will never see himself as a legend.

Asked about the tag, O'Neill stated: "It's not a word I'm particularly comfortable with. It has been an amazing experience for me to be a part of this and to be the manager to take us to the Euros.

"It was amazing to be the first Pot 5 team to win a group but none of those things are things I dwell on. You move on. What's done is done.

"I will never regard myself as a legend, I don't really know what benefits there are to being a legend really!

"That's for other people to say but I go back to my home in Edinburgh and I feel contentment in the job."

Read more: O'Neill: I'll sign four-year IFA deal - but consider club offers

It was back on December 28, 2011, that O'Neill was named Northern Ireland's new boss.

It has been a roller coaster ride since, from the lows of a terrible World Cup campaign to the highs of Euro 2016 qualification.

He says: "I've had every emotion going. At the start was the most difficult time in the job.

"The better time to get the Northern Ireland job would have been in August rather than when I got it because it is hard to motivate a bunch of players who are not going to a major championships and have a pre-arranged friendly in June.

Read more: O'Neill opts for Lyon as Northern Ireland Euro 2016 base

"Between our first game with Norway in February and our Holland game in June it was difficult getting to know the players. In fact it was impossible.

"I didn't gather too much from those games at all because players weren't available, we were chopping and changing and I was trying to throw together a squad at difficult times.

"I would see them for four days before the Norway game and three days before the Holland game. I had seen them for seven days in six months. There were a lot of things I had no control over when I took the job. It was a real learning curve for me."

Belfast Telegraph

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