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'Northern Ireland's Michael every bit as good as Republic's Martin'

By Stuart McKinley

Former Northern Ireland manager Bryan Hamilton has paid current boss Michael O'Neill a massive compliment by comparing his approach to that of his namesake and Republic of Ireland counterpart Martin O'Neill.

The man who took Northern Ireland to the brink of qualification for Euro 96 believes, however, that Michael - who was in the team during that time - can this weekend take a massive step towards reaching next summer's European Championship finals in France by triumphing over Romania at Windsor Park - while Martin needs a result against Scotland to keep the Republic's hopes alive.

"Michael was a smart and articulate lad. He didn't say a lot, but when he spoke you listened to him," recalled Hamilton (pictured).

"As a player he was thoughtful and skilful and very like Martin O'Neill in that he is well educated and knowledgeable. That has helped him do well as a manager.

"Michael has good players in the squad and the prize is enormous. If they win this game it would be terrific. They can do it and they can qualify."

Belfast Telegraph